There was no up and adam at first light from any tents this morning.

It was more a stumble out of sleeping bags because one was busting for a pee.  Eventually, bodies appeared and like us, although rested, there were hobbles in the steps.

A fleck of rain during the night had water globules on the external fly.  Thank goodness the duck-tape held on the internal seam.  We need a plan b for the tent.  Sleeping under only a tarp with monsters about after the hours of darkness isn’t an option because neither of us is prepared to stand guard to protect.

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Slowly, camp was de-bunked.  Once the boots were on, feet moulded into the inner soles and gave some comfort to popped skin folds.  John had already made tracks; Lasse was going to be another twenty minutes and so, with Ashley and Meg, we wandered back onto 90 Miles Beach for another day of living the life on the TA.

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Ashley’s face was a circle of red.  Sun burn too had fun yesterday.  What wasn’t covered was now reddened.  For Claire, behind the ears.  For me, backs of my legs.  Sun screen was our ally today.

The general consensus that to walk another 30 kilometres to the next camp was a stupid idea.  Experience always wins out over some qualification hanging from the wall!  As a collective, we decided to trek 20 kilometres and freedom camp in the forest.  Bugger the rules of engagement.  Health and safety applies.

The first 3 kms were easy.  That’s because there was a lot of chit chat about histories of each other.  Talking seems to make the distance shorter for some reason, if you could get a word or three in.  The next three and a half kms seemed to take a little longer.  The bodies quivered quickly to the aches and pain conditions from yesterday.  John was a silhouette in the distance up front getting fuzzier; Lasses was a silhouette in the distance behind us and catching up.

Buses and vehicles sped past us in both directions making good of the low tide.  We were able to cut a straight line from point A to a point B versus follow the true line of jutting out sand dunes and inlets.  It didn’t take long for grins to become grimaces and if anyone has ever done the beach of 90 Miles, it was again tough physically and so early in the walking.

There had been banter about hitching a ride up the beach.  Debate for and against had pro’s and con’s.  A large four-wheel drive suddenly came toward us going in our direction.  I don’t know what prompted me to stand up without consulting the others to step forward with thumb out to catch the eye of the driver.  She slowed, turned around and pulled up where the others still sat.

“Are we able to get a lift to the next camp?”

By now, Lasse had caught up so there were five of us.  But Lasse declined the ride and to leave him behind was hard.  And easy in the same breath.  It is one thing to push the body to its extreme limits; it is another to know when to pull back the body from extreme physical abuse.

As I sat in the front with the three girls in the back, Elly the driver said that she does this all the time due to the challenges inflected on trekkers bodies from walking on the beach sand.

As we approached John, we slowed to ask if he too wanted a lift.  Four became five TA walkers now speeding along 90 Mile Beach in a vehicle.  It was ironic that those who were against now too sat with the for’s.  Only they were now debating with themselves as to whether what they did was a pro or a con.

Arriving at Waipapakauri Beach Camp ground, checking into a shared cabin and conversations with other fellow trekkers, there was a sigh of relief that everyone was now on the same page regarding limiting the steps trodden today to look after the body frames.

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Boots left outside due to stench and unpacked stuff strewn about the room, the place looked like a bomb had gone off.  It didn’t matter, we were all in a happy place resting and recovering.  Aloe Vera plants applied to sunburn as a moisture coached by Ashley was a newby for us.  There was hope that the soft texture moistness would smooth out wrinkles too.  Nope!

As the ball in the sky slipped down toward the sea horizon, thoughts of Lasse being out on the 90 Mile somewhere on his own were shared.   A natural sadness that he wasn’t with us.  Even worse for me.  I still had my lighter that he borrowed to ignite his cooking stove.

F@#k!