It's been ages since I'd been plagued by an earworm - unless you count my day with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers singing the achingly awful Islands in the Stream as we made our way to Hanmer.
Today's earworm was a result of our plan to take the Richmonds...one day at a time.
A good plan but a really annoying earworm. As usual, of the many words needed to make the song complete I only knew a few. Seven to be precise.
This was possibly a bonus in the situation...but you never know.
We were now close enough to the end of the trip that even I could count the number of days left before we would get to the ferry at Picton.
The Richmond Ranges had intimidated us for a while, but now that we were on their doorstep they felt like an almost impenetrable barrier.
Call it trail fatigue. Call it hysteria. Call it a bloody long and difficult walk in the mountains.
We said our farewells at the lodge - another friendly, useful and relaxed TeA pitstop. The owner and staff had been great...especially Jo, a Palmy transplant to Saint Arnaud who was saving money to build a tiny house...probably somewhere up the Pohangina Valley.
We'll be comparing notes in the future...if we can figure out where, in our already overcrowded backyard, to put the tiny TeA hut we've been planning for a while now. We live three hundred metres from the track in Palmerston North and have an urge to bring the trail home.
Can you tell I'm avoiding talking about the walk?
Our first day into the Richmonds was kind of easy.
We walked the ten kilometre road walk to the trailhead without issue. It had been a while since we'd walked this much highway and even though it was tight and windy, the cars drove relatively slowly.
But I still don't know why an official walking trail on a main road has no warning signs for motorists telling them we'll be sharing the road. As people drove past, several had looks of annoyance as they made no effort to steer clear of us.
The car park at the start of the track was full of wasps. We were stuffed and had to sit amongst them as we recovered before the five kilometre climb to Red Hills Hut. But after the slightly hostile welcome, the 4WD track through healthy regenerating beech forest made for a smooth start to the eight day leg.
The Red Hills Hut is a six bunk sweety. It's almost brand new and sits just out of sight of the highway to Blenheim, on a large flat area of tussock.
We shared it with Anna, who'd left Saint Arnaud at twenty past three (!), and a couple of Sobos from the Czech Republic.
It seemed a long way from anywhere.
As Roman and Lenka, our new friends for the night, stood outside admiring the evening view, a very large piece of space stuff fell to earth in the direction of Palmerston North.
An excited Roman came inside and checked his radio for news.
Auckland and Wellington seemed to have survived the disaster.
We hoped Palmy was alright. We had to go back to work in a couple of weeks.
THE ART OF NAVEL GAZING
I think I was accused of navel gazing on Facebook after posting yesterday's blog. It's an interesting accusation for a couple of reasons.
Firstly: It's been a few weeks since I've been able to see my navel. As the weight has dropped off me my stomach is now only a ghost of its former self. When we left Bluff my belly button sat happily in the middle of what I liked to refer as my motor. Other's might like to describe my previously slightly distended gut as my beer belly. Whatever.
After about eight weeks of walking my navel now sits under a slightly disturbing fold of skin. I could look at it if I wanted to...but my new body worries me a bit so I don't.
Secondly: By navel gazing, I think my accuser was trying to say that the blog post was overly introspective.
Do I have news for him...being introspective is pretty much the only thing people do when they walk Te Araroa. So I'll take it as a compliment. A big TeA tick.
Yes us walkers like to look at mountains and birds. We like to talk with others about their experiences...and shock horror...our own.
But generally every step we take is accompanied by thoughts like:
"This is really difficult. What the feck am I doing this for?"
"Why am I so obsessed with food?"
"I'm in absolute agony. What was I thinking when I said yes to this?"
"I've just walked to the top of a really large mountain...does that make ME God?"
"What's wrong with me? Why can't I do this faster?"
"I have to be back at work in six weeks! Should I run away and live under a bridge instead?"
I reckon that if you said you walked Te Araroa and didn't spend copious amounts of time thinking about your place in the world (navel gazing)...you're probably deluding yourself or faking it.
So is this blog an example of egotistical, self absorbed, self important, introspection...with a few photos to lighten the load?
I won't even comment on one guy who said...
"Congratulations. You are the worst post and blog of the trail I have ever read. Go home and whinge about your own country. Did you know, happiness is only a few steps away from you.....but of course. you will never get there."
...except to say... :0)