I slept with crazed dreams. The kind you only see flashes of and only half remember, but not in a way you can describe with words. Lucid hallucinogenic mayhem during REM. And so the day begins. Off again and onward. It was a long, steep, technical day through the Dome Forest. When I say technical, I don't mean anything along the lines of having to use climbing gear and ropes and harnesses, not that kind of technical. Rather I mean each step must be perfectly choreographed. Each foot planting perfectly executed, balanced, and timed. You are dancing with nature, and you must follow her lead. We passed the 500km mark today! It's disappointing to know I didn't get to actually hike all of that, but still an exciting feat. And we are officially 1/6 of the way through the trail. I am still trying to understand how I managed to go from being the person who says "Oh that would be so cool to..(insert some sort of super-human seeming feat here)," to actually being able to say I have hiked hundreds of miles. Each day is a day and each day has its feat. Each a focal point to approach until it is crystal clear, you standing in the bullseye of its crispness, and eventually over a series of days you turn around to look at the trail you have travelled and you see how far you have come, and it all looks so far away both in space and memory. Turn around, refocus, and step onward, there is more to be seen. In my journal I wrote, "My knees hurt from the downhill, my thighs, calves and butt hurt from the uphill, and me feet and ankles are wrecked from all of it." This was my favorite day hike out of all of them to date. Beautiful weather, the best of company, a good hearty trek, feeling healthy and strong and by 3:30 we were lunching at the Dome Cafe, where Pestion and I shared our first kiwi milkshake. With a limited amount of time to enjoy the pleasure of Rita and Martin's company before their departure into Auckland and onto Vietnam we hitched to Waiwera and posted up on a plot of grass across the street from a pub. It rained through the night and cleared by morning. We only had to trek 9 km along beach rocks at low tide to get to the next town of Orewa. The rock terrain was something out of an old Star Trek episode. Otherworldly. I admit this is where I start to get a bit nervous. After Martin and Rita depart I am on my own again. My concern is not of being alone, I have been practicing the art of being alone over the past year, and find that I quite thoroughly enjoy and cherish my own company. And please keep in mind the vast difference between being lonely and being alone. Some people never have the pleasure of being able to distinguish the two, but they are existential light years away from each other. My concern of being alone is safety. Maybe I am over thinking things, but a small wrong move out there could end in the worst way. Even just since I have been here two people died on a mountain on the south island when they were caught up unprepared in a weather shift and both died of hypothermia, one several hours after the other. They were just on a day hike. Am I nervous to hike alone? Yes. The three of us went to the grocery, selected our drink of choice, found a spot on the beach and enjoyed what was thought to be our last night together. We talked for hours. Of our accomplishments through our journey, (both together and separate), of future goals, places seen, past travels and the hopes we have of our experiences to come. But mostly, we laughed. Seldom along the journey of life do you have the privilege of finding people who feel like they have always been a part of it, but these two I can say with all honesty, were always meant to be a part of mine.
The great Kiwi milkshake at thew end of the Dome Track