March 19th 2017
pines campground – roadside camping
Total distance: 1540.1 miles
I fell asleep quickly despite the noisy campground, but woke up regularly through the night because my legs were throbbing. I knew it was because we had been on the flat all day, and that’s more punishing on the body than going up and down. The stars were pretty amazing again but too many campers with their lights on to make them really special.
It was so cold in the morning, we decided not to set alarms as we didn’t have too far to go today, so we ended up leaving at about 9am. We found the pit toilet which was one of the more disgusting ones on the trail, and when I came back I saw Colin was talking to another hiker, a young Kiwi guy called Will. We walked along all together to the visitors centre where there is a salmon shop, Will is very thin and generally in life he can consume a lot of food by the sound of it, and on the trail he is struggling to keep his hunger at bay. After considering buying a whole salmon he wisely chose a cookie instead.
We rejoined the alps to ocean cycle trail, which is a flat gravel path and that would take us the 7 miles to Twizel (which isn’t pronounced Twizzle!). I had plans to walk by myself and zone out into a daydream, but Will had a lot of questions about the PCT and we ended up chatting the whole way into town. Being only 21 he hasn’t travelled much and he had a lot of questions about the countries I had been to, which eventually lead to a conversation about the media and how they make you feel like there is always something wrong with you so you buy more things to ‘improve’ yourself. And he said that before he started the trail he thought body hair on women was disgusting (he actually used the word disgusting!), and since being on the trail he has seen women with hair on their legs and it was ‘ok’. Now, I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad about this. I’m happy because he has changed his opinion but I’m so sad that he felt like that in the first place. And I haven’t written this to reflect badly on Will, he has been influenced by TV, films and magazines to have this opinion and I’m sure he isn’t the only one, especially of his generation, but this madness needs to be stopped. Naturally occurring body hair is not disgusting.
So we arrived in Twizel around 11:30am, which is a very nice, clean and friendly town, and we headed over to the bakery to get food, of course. I chose bacon and eggs on toast, and I’m not normally a fan of breakfast foods but I have to say that a New Zealand breakfast is far superior to an American one (sorry Americans, but yours are too greasy). And we discovered the cafe had free and very fast wifi which is a rare combination, in the South Island especially it seems. We didn’t have any wifi in Tekapo and we were keen to download some entertainment for the next section, so we stayed in the cafe for ages. I managed to download a whole bunch of podcasts and branched out to try some new ones which I’m looking forward to.
While we were in the cafe our old friend Marcus came in! We haven’t seen him since Wellington. He was with another hiker, an Aussie called Aiden, and Aiden was having some problems with his feet so planned to take some time off. Will hiked on, and Sandy, Colin and I took it in turns to go to the 4 square to resupply. Now I have my stove I bought some noodles for dinner but other than that I bought the same old crap to keep me alive. I’ve started to chose Whitaker’s chocolate over Cadbury, New Zealand may have converted me!
Back at the cafe we saw Vivienne (I don’t know how to spell her name, she is Dutch so I assume it’s spelt more exotically) , Erin (boy) and James who we last saw a few days ago at Crooked Spur hut and they told us the other group of three we passed yesterday were also in town. That’s about 12 of us in town so we are in a bit of a bubble, which is quite nice in a way because people keep telling us we are really late in the season, but there are lots of us about.
After eating a ham, cheese and pineapple toasty, at 5pm we decided we should move on. Marcus had left earlier and some of the others were staying in town for the night. We wanted to go another 7ish miles to get to where Marcus was camped. The trail went over the Ruataniwha Dam which is a hub of activity. There is salmon farming and lots of people rowing and in 1996 a man called Peter Knight broke a world speed record. The trail rejoins the Alps to Ocean path and the whole of the afternoon was flat gravel road. Our packs were heavy with 5 days of food (I think I have too much food) and the gravel was really chunky and difficult to walk on so we were thankful to see Marcus pitched just off the road. I was quite pleased that we had still managed 14 miles with a late start and a 5 and a half hour break in town!
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.