It was Back Packer Hostel accommodation last night. Cheap, cheerful and an opportunity to meet other fellow TA walkers so as to converse how to attack the next section of the route.
Quite simple actually. Six of us piled into a taxi and were chauffeured 12kms up the road where three exited to walk. We with Meg (US) remained in the car and for an extra $20 ($3.20 per kilometre), we got transported a further 6kms up the road.
The heart of the dairy country where cows hollered moooo’s to our presence. Road became gravel and sea level became above sea level as we rose upwards. Back Packs were filled to the brim with five-day’s worth of food. We perspired.
It didn’t take the three behind who were dropped off earlier to catch up. They are through walkers and although they had shared the taxi with us; they had previously walked the section from Hamilton yesterday without packs and then caught a return bus back to Hamilton. It also meant that they have stepped out every step of the long pathway continuously. Very smart.
We are categorised as section walkers. It means we are doing sections of the trail and hence the hitching of some parts. That is the beauty of this walk. It doesn’t lessen our integrity for not completing every step of the way but more so strengthens it. Our design of completing the parts that we believe are more favourable to our capabilities is integral. We have to do this with enjoyment. Or why do it? And some of the parts we have trodden have come with rubber band stretching to question our resolve. The TA can break you to give up. So far, so good.
Having just come off cycling across Canada, there have been moments where we have wondered if we have gone into this journey too early. We didn’t give our minds and bodies enough space to rest and recover. Hindsight eh?
Taking a wrong turn twice in a day was a first for us. The hillside one in a farmer’s paddock contradicted the GPS trail navigation with the direction of the orange markers. Even the through walkers got confused and followed our leadership to retrace back down to pick up the trail marker missed. Bet you that they whispered under their breaths, “Damn part-timers!”
The second time was after a picnic area junction rest stop. We followed two TA walkers who hung a left without doing a GPS confirmation check and went two kilometres up the loop road before we realised meaning a two kilometre back track. If we had of gone in the rightish in the right direction, we would have made it to our campsite in the extra distance covered! We live and we learn.
Our additional countryside tiki tours however, allowed us to get to know Jake from the US. We happened upon him in a creek re-filling his water supply just candidly in the middle of no-where. He had just completed the Pacific Crest Trail in the US (from Canada to Mexico). His pack looked half the size with no tent or cooking apparatus. At 25 years of age, a gentle conversationalist behind a deep voice, he was a pearl of experiential minimalistic wisdom that had us re-thinking gear.
And humble too. As we pitched our tent, Jake laid out his tarp onto the ground just into the forest (he sleeps without a shelter or climbs under the tarp during inclement weather). As we cooked our evening meal, Jake ate cold couscous. We offered him a cup of tea and he modestly declined to instead sip water filtered earlier. Seasoned habits instilled that we too could live and learn from. Twice in a day!
An unexpected encounter with a walker through and through.