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January 21 2024, Queenstown to Greenstone Hut:
The tramily and I went out for breakfast in Frankton to get our last intake of restaurant food before we hit the trail.
The waitress came up to our table to get our order then looked at me and said, “Ladies first.”
After she had left to put our orders into the system, Ben goes, “Did she just assume our genders? It’s 2024 out here, you can’t be doing that.”
We all busted out laughing. Loved that he found that shit funny, too.
Over the last few days, the three of us had decided to do the Routeburn Track and connect it back to the TA in a few days, however I woke up this morning and intuitively felt it was a big ‘no.’ Spirit guided me to do my own thing so I could take some alone time. I felt it would even be fun to do the Greenstone Loop Track and connect it back to the TA.
I dropped the bomb on them as we were about to drive to the trailhead. I loved how they adhered to my sudden changes of mind, just as I did with them, understanding that people were allowed to move in a different direction if they felt called and that was okay. I genuinely loved people like that.
So, we even half ass decided to meet up at one of the huts along the way but I told Ben not to hold me to that because I tended to hike very differently when I was alone. Knowing myself, I would probably push myself extra hard and walk past the hut that we planned to meet at.
During the drive we listened to Chris Isaak’s song “Wicked Game” and I said, “I feel like this song hits everyone.”
They nodded in agreement.
I took in the depth of the lyrics, feeling the soul of the words. I felt I was in the same boat as that of the song, feeling as if my emotions got played by someone and feeling like a fool because of it.
“I wonder if I’ve ever broken anyone’s heart,” I pondered out loud.
“Are you serious?” Ben asked.
“What?” I asked, “whose heart did I break?”
“Orange Man’s.”
“Oh shit, brain fart for a second.”
I really didn’t think I ‘broke his heart.’ I felt in the moment of our parting yes, he was crushed, but I knew he would be able to handle his emotions and work through them with clarity.
They dropped me off at a junction where I would head towards Greenstone and they would cruise up to Routeburn. I waited for a car to give me a ride. It was slow going, and by slow going I mean I didn’t see a single car for the better part of an hour. I didn’t mind as I was in a very beautiful area where there were snowcapped mountains in the distance and farmland surrounding me. It was quiet and windy. The air smelled of sheep shit, dusty gravel, wheats and a little bit of death. Eventually, I saw there was actually a dead sheep not too far from me. The entire time I had thought it was sleeping soundly because it had a sweet smile on its face, but it continued to stay in the same position so I had grown suspicious. I walked closer to find it surrounded by thousands of flies and looking extra bloated. I waited to see if its stomach would rise and fall from breathing but nothing occurred. Then, the smell of death hit me and I realized it was a goner.
After over an hour of waiting, I eventually got a ride by an American mother and son. They were from Massachusetts, but ceased to have the thick east coast accents. We got on the topic of the Appalachian trail and she asked how I liked hiking the length of it.
“I didn’t, really,” I said, “I had a pretty difficult time.”
“The east coast is not bad,” she said, “it’s just different.”
They drove me to YHA Kinloch and I started road-walking some since Greenstone Car Park was only about 7 miles away. That’s when the romanticization began. I started thinking about the east coast and for the first time I agreed with what that woman driving me said. “The east coast is not bad, it’s just different.” I started to feel that when I was road walking and remembered of the days I chose the gravel roads on the AT. I felt nostalgic and appreciative of what I had.
So, the track went into the wild again, however the path was very easy and made for the easement of most people. During this stretch there were tons of waterfalls with pretty bridges to stand on and look at them closely.
Before the hut, I stood on another bridge and watched a raging river flowing beneath me. It was a massive cliff and looking down at it made my stomach drop drastically. I had a couple more things listed on my bucket list for NZ, one of them being to bungee jump in Queenstown. Seeing how scared I was to simply look down over a bridge, I didn’t know how I would have the balls to bungee jump from a much higher height than that.
I came into Greenstone Hut and ran into all of my friends—Julia, Spencer and Ikra. I caught up with them as I made myself a salami and cheese tortilla wrap. Then, I looked at the map and tried to figure out my route. I wanted to do the full Greenstone Loop only to realize that I had apparently fucked up and missed the trail entirely. For some reason I thought it was coming up in a few days, so I resupplied for five days. I also thought the TA didn’t connect to the Greenstone track at all, that it would have a side trail that led up to the loop. It was entirely a full blown assumption I had made and recognized the stupidity of it because I was following signs that read ‘Greenstone Track’ and I was currently sitting in ‘Greenstone Hut.’ Sometimes, I just had brain fart moments. In the end I decided to say fuck it and stay on the TA.
Before going to bed, I watched as Julia laughed with another girl in her bed. They were face to face, both sharing a pair of headphones. I remembered the crush feeling I had felt for her back in Hanmer Springs and how upset I felt that we didn’t kiss. Now, I loved to witness how childlike she was, how free. She seemed happy and innocent in her expression of energy.
What would it feel like to let go?
What would it feel like to not have the need to try to capture every person I met?
Although contradictory to my actions, I didn’t like who I became when I was clouded with lustful energy. It was as if when I was talking to people or on my walkabout, I wasn’t really ‘there.’ Not unless I chose awareness of my present surroundings, which I often didn’t if I felt sexually aroused.