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February 9 2024, Stewart Island NWC Track Day 2, Bungaree Hut to Yankee River Hut:
I woke up extra early and walked onto the porch to see the sky scattered in sparkling white stardust. The sun started peeking its way up over the ocean’s horizon, greeting me with its warm welcoming.
One of the girls woke up and pointed out a penguin! It was another animal I hadn’t seen before! It had an exaggerated hunched back and the feathers made it look like if it was wearing a tuxedo. As if on a mission, it ran towards the waves, then hopped underneath the current.
We took a breakfast break early on into our walk, watching the tide gently making its way in and out.
Orange had the hiccups and said, “Yeah, I think it’s cause I ate my croissant too fast.”
“That’s not how it works,” I said.
“No? Then how does it work?”
“It’s usually from a quick temperature change.”
Orange started laughing.
“Why are you laughing?!” I interjected, “I’m being serious!”
“I mean, that jus doesn’ make any sense,” he said.
“Well, I’ve never gotten hiccups from eating too fast,” I said.
“I’ve neva gotten hiccups from a temperature change,” he said.
We continued on, walking though a lot of mud and blowdowns. It didn’t bother me too much, if anything it was quite fun to navigate through. We would find silly ways to get across them, often eating shit in attempt.
We stumbled upon a big group of hunters who were staying in a private hut. It was directly next to the trail and everyone was super inviting so we stopped by to say hello.
“Oh!” one of the girls yelled, “are you that guy I saw walkin’ earlier with that otha girl?“
Orange shook his head ‘no’ and I looked confused.
Another girl punched her shoulder and said, “Oh my god, don’ get him in trouble now.”
Everyone laughed.
“Would ya like some pāua?” one of the guys asked us.
“Some power?” I asked confusingly, wondering if he was asking me if I needed to charge my power bank.
I was about to say yes until Orange said, “Ya probably won’t like it.”
Oh, it’s probably some seafood thing that they found in the ocean.
They sliced some of it on the cutting board. It looked like a rubbery black oyster—nothing about it appeared appealing to me, however Orange gladly packed some out for himself in a ziploc baggie. Before we headed out, I spotted what I thought was a hedgehog! It looked so fuzzy and cute, however when I took a closer look I realized it was spikes on a shell. All of the hunters watched me in amazement, as if baffled by how I had never seen such a thing. Apparently, it was called a kina—a large sea urchin that was edible!
We got going and I thought I spotted a kiwi! It was hard to tell because it had rustled around and ran away upon my approaching its space. All I could see was a light brown color of fluff running in between the ferns.
The trees towered over us, mocha and olive green ripples were naturally carved into their bark. We came across another trail sign, somebody had carved the words ‘HARD CORE’ into it. Orange and I assumed it must’ve been the guy who said “total extreme.”
When we made it to the hut, he made me a fire and then decided to go fishing for a couple hours. I ate dinner and grew very sleepy, so I read my book in my bunk to wind down. Suddenly, I heard a bird close by so I peeked out the window. It was a Kererū, also known as a wood pigeon. It had faded shades of rainbow colors that shimmered as it moved along with a bright white belly that made it look like it was wearing a tank top. It was only about 15’ away from me so I stared as it chirped and pooped, flying up to a higher branch every few minutes or so. Gosh, even Hawaii didn’t have birds that beautiful. We used to have a plethora of birds back in the day, but not anymore since the mongoose invaded the aina and were notoriously known for eating all of their eggs.
I was asleep when I heard Orange come back excitedly, asking if I ate dinner already because he caught some fish. He went to gut them and I was so sleepy I couldn’t voice to him that I would love to try some.
We both woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of kiwi birds screeching.
“They sound terrifying,” I said.
“I know right,” he said.