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December 14 2023, St Arnaud to Travers River Stealth Site:
Orange and I went to get breakfast downstairs in the morning. As I was walking there, I saw two young hiker dudes come into the lodge so I invited them to sit with us. They happily joined, clearly giving the impression that they needed to eat something right that second.
Around 30 hikers eventually showed up in the dining area, gathering every few minutes or so. Looked like we were officially in the bubble. I laughed at how trashy we all appeared in our tattered clothing, intermingled with bougie people in a classy place. The manager joked that he had to separate the hikers from the people who paid good money to stay there because we looked pretty homeless.
The young English guys devoured their pizza in a couple of minutes. They were staring at the bits of crusts Orange and I had leftover from our own pizzas.
“Do you want to eat our crusts?” I asked, picking up on their eye language.
“100%,” one of them said.
They both grabbed a handful and ate it in seconds.
I laughed out loud and said, “Pure hiker trash, I love it.”
I let them share my last slice of pesto pizza. They gladly ate it with confused sense of pleasure, unable to believe how good it actually was.
“I think you’re onto something,” one of them said.
“I know,” I said, “I’m not always full of shit.”
As more hikers filtered in, they came to say hello to us at the table, just the same as we did with others upon leaving. I loved how smiley and inviting hikers were, as if we were automatically friends just by sharing the same passion.
Orange and I started walking beside Lake Rotoiti, making it a smooth hike to the hut. Today I smelled the poopy smell that people said New Zealand carried. Orange said it came from the trees. We took a break as we laid in the pebbles beside the shoreline and felt the warm wind picking up speed. We threw rocks in the water and ate gummies.
I played him one of Lana Del Rey’s song. I laid down on a picnic table as I took in her words under the heat of the setting sun. I loved how I just understood her. I loved how she just understood me. She was someone I could listen to and feel as if I wasn’t the only one who experienced the thoughts I did. Made me feel I wasn’t so crazy, or at least I wasn’t alone.
We walked through the valley, over a swing bridge and camped out by the river. Naturally, we got attacked by sandflies. Right before we went to bed, I stepped outside to go pee and all of a sudden, I looked up at the stars and couldn’t believe the beauty that was in eyes reach.
“Wow,” I said as I exhaled a breath.
I stared and watched as they twinkled. I never saw stars twinkle so much as I did in New Zealand. It was as if they were mirrors being reflected from the sun, nearly making me squint from being so bright. Silver glitter scattered throughout a black canvas. I was in awe.
After a couple of minutes, I continued with my mission of taking a piss so I squatted down right beside the tent.
Eventually Orange crawled out to go pee, too, and accidentally tripped and yelled, “Aw fock! I most definitely just stepped in your pee!”
I laughed out loud to the stars and said, “Now this is the most accurate representation of what camping is really like.”