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February 3-4 2024, Colac Bay to Riverton:
Yesterday morning I hitched out of town to get to Riverton. Lenses told me there was a trail Angel there who hosted hikers for however long they needed. I got picked up by a local who was headed down to Invercargill. His accent was so strong it was nearly impossible to understand—wished Orange Man was there to translate.
We drove along the scenic part of the island, receiving large and open views of the ocean interlacing with the grey shades of the stormy sky. He was giving me a mini tour of the area along with some random fun facts. Not sure how many of the things he said were actually factual or if was just pulling my leg.
He pulled into a parking lot with a scenic look view of the ocean.
“The colder the water the more omegas n’ better quality the fish is,” he said, “‘n if you like fish, Riverton is the place to buy it.”
We saw a dead possum on the side of the road when we started driving again. Despite it being dead, I became excited because it was my first time seeing one.
“Wow!” I exclaimed as I pointed to it.
“Yeah,” he says, “some fuckin’ cunt brought the possums in.”
He liked to mess with the tourists by telling them there were monkeys in NZ. He would point up at the trees, trying to get them to spot the monkeys hanging in the branches.
He asked me what I planned on doing after the TA and I told him I was flirting with the idea of hiking the Northwest Circuit of Stewart Island.
“There’s a mega shark that’s meant to be there,” he says, “it’s known to be three ‘n a half tons.”
He kept taking side turns along the way without much warning. Just as we would be approaching an intersection he would yell, “Lemme show you this one spot!” then skirted off in the other direction.
Just before Riverton he did the same thing, taking a sharp left turn to go see if his friend’s boat was still on the dock. Then, when we were about two minutes from the house, he suddenly made a u-turn in the middle of town to show me a mural of his ex.
“She had three miscarriages,” he said, “it was clear she couldn’t have kids with me or it wasn’t part of our plan. We ended up breakin’ up after we were engaged.”
“Why?” I asked.
I waited for it, knowing just what he was about to say.
“Because,” he said, “she was crazy.”
There it was. I started laughing at how that was somehow a valid reason most every guy would give as to why him and his partner broke up. He started going into a story about how she started hitting his car with a steel rod, then went to aim for him and all the while I was thinking, Yeah it was probably for a reason. Women and men alike were chill for the most part unless you gave them a reason not to be.
So, he dropped me off directly at the doorstep of the trail Angel’s house and the woman who owned the place showed me around. It looked like a mansion, yet had more of an eerie kine feel—turned out it was an old hospital building.
She showed me an entire hallway of rooms that I could choose from, it being where the nurses used to reside. It was a little, okay more like a lot, creepy. Her daughter collected Cabbage Patch dolls that were placed on a shelf in the middle of the hallway, it felt like a horror movie.
Besides that, the place was a hiker’s sanctuary. There was a full kitchen and lounge area, laundry and a shower. She didn’t ask for a dime, simply wanted hikers and travelers to have a place they could come and rest. After the tour, I didn’t see her the rest of the time there.
My friends pushed me to contact Orange to leave things off on a better note. I had already went into acceptance of what was, however I still reached out and got in touch. I wanted to see if he was open to meeting up since he lived close to the area. I was surprised to find out he was actually very open.
The following morning, he picked me up from the house so he could slackpack the tramily for the rest of the trail. Today, we planned a short day—Colac Bay to Riverton. Orange gave me his day pack and even attached the TA tag on it so people would know I was a thru-hiker and not a day hiker.
In his car he had boxes of fresh Subway cookies since he knew how much I loved them. We met up with Lenses and Ben in Colac Bay and they left what they didn’t need to carry in Orange’s car. I was so happy I skipped the Longwoods as they told me I would have most definitely cried from frustration. Ben nearly did, himself. They got slammed with rain and the weather temperature dropped drastically to the point where Ben even said he didn’t feel safe pushing on. I felt grateful I trusted my intuition.
We started our walk down a stoney beach shoreline then eventually connected to one that was more like fine sand. It was definitely giving me OCT vibes. Lenses and Ben held hands, getting caught up in laughter and romance. We stopped often to take breaks to empty the sand out of our shoes and for Lenses to change out her film.
We came across large seaweeds and bleached driftwood that had rolled up to the top of the shore. Seashells were splattered throughout the beach and iridescent shells were abundant, perfect for hippies to keep their sage and palo santo in. Along the way, Lenses and Ben collected various kine seashells and rocks. Although tempted, I didn’t take anything with me. I was unsure if airport security would stop me for taking stuff from their land. I didn’t want to deal with any confrontation so I let it be.
We walked up and over tall grassy cliffs that overlooked the ocean. Everything felt larger than life with a magical essence, something I would imagine Heaven to be like. Sea salt mist covered the air, the sun strong on our cheeks and youthful adventure guiding our steps. The moment we entered the wooded section, the scent became intoxicating—nature’s natural perfume.
We got up to a scenic overlook and took some silly pictures.
Some of the tourists felt off put when I cursed out something like, “Fucking Christ, this is pretty as shit!”
When we made it to the parking lot, I got excited thinking about food. We saw some day hikers starting their walk out of the parking lot and without their slightest attention on me, I looked at them and said, “We’re on our way to get flat whites,” then proceeded to confidently walk the wrong direction into a parking lot that led to a toilet.
“It’s that way,” one of the guys said as he pointed in the opposite direction.
“Whoops! Wouldn’t be a first,” I said.
A minute into our road walk, I started singing the “town day song” and danced around while I did so. Ben, as usual, acted like he didn’t know me. Towards the end, I decided to surprise my audience with a sudden hair whip and ended up cracking my neck so loud that Ben thought I broke something.
Lenses and Ben planned to stay at the trail angels house with me so Orange Man met us in town and surprised us with more trail magic. He got me some Dr Pepper as he knew it was my favorite, also because I didn’t receive the trail magic he brought out to the Longwoods.
Afterwards, Orange took us to a spot he had been revisiting since he was a kid. It was the spot where he had his first kiss. I felt lucky to get to experience the energy of a place in which he grew up in.
There was a large boulder cliff that we climbed up and the view below was the rough ocean hitting the rock in which we were standing on. We walked back down and I saw the largest seaweed I had ever seen. They lifted it up and tugged at it, pretending to play tug of war.
It was trippy to see Orange again, but at the same time, good for my heart. I felt he brought about a sense of home, an inner calmness that accompanied my space when in his presence.
When we made it home, I made Ben and Lenses some pasta and they were extremely impressed. They would have lost their minds if I actually had my secret seasoning on me. I told them it was the only thing I knew how to make so not to get too excited over my cooking skills.