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February 12 2024, Stewart Island NWC Track Day 5, East Ruggedy Hut to Big Hellfire Hut:
“I don’t get how people miss each other,” I said to Orange, “I know everyone is here with me wherever I go, so there’s no point in missing.’”
He smiled as I went off on my tangent of thought. “It’s okay to miss people, Goldie,” he said.
I took a breath and said, “You’re right.”
We packed up and meandered between the crevices of sand dunes then along the shoreline of West Ruggedy Beach. The wind was crazy! We had to yell over each other as tiny pebbles of sand sharply pelted us, making it feel as if we were in the heat of a sandstorm! We threw on our rain gear to avoid most of the impact.
The wet sand beneath our steps felt sticky and began to suction us if we stood on it too long. During the beach walk I saw gooey jellyfish dispersed throughout. They were shiny blue, stringy and squishy. Someone had drawn a smiley face in the sand which in turn made me smile. I loved running into little trail art messages from previous hikers.
I felt happy today, joyous and in the flow of my steps, other than a few times where I ate shit and nearly sprained a finger. The mud seemed to get worse by the day, but regardless, I felt I was having so much fun with it. It felt it was the perfect kind of squish—more sticky rather than slippery. I did end up losing my shoe in it again and had to pull it out with my hands.
Although the terrain of the trail was challenging, I really loved the way the footpath would blend into the wildness of the scenery. I came across a dead tree that had mushrooms scattered throughout it, shades of deep reds and bright oranges. I felt silly so I posed for a picture, imitating a mushroom by forming a little hood as I put my hands over my head in a pointed manner.
I loved the way nature would always gift us with beautiful art for our eyes. It felt healing to lay our eyes upon these images, as if they brought ease to our draining thoughts. Such like stumbling upon a faded leaf with fresh water droplets, clusters of flowers that bloomed on a mossy branch or baby ferns that were just starting to peek out of the soil, breathing in a new life.
We made it to the hut and eventually a couple of older gentleman showed up. One was an Australian named Henry, the other a British man named Arthur. We had met them yesterday at the previous hut. I laid down on the top bunk next to Orange while I found entertainment listening to the way they interacted with each other. It was a playful sarcasm that reminded me of two brothers.
“I still don’t know what I’m doing with mah life,” Arthur said, “mah wife and daughter insist that I get it sorted when I come back from this trip.”
We all laughed and then a silence followed in between, so I asked, “Are you guys best friends?”
They made a long pause before Arthur responded, “Awe, um no we’re not.”
“We’re jus mates,” Henry said, “jus mates who go trampin’.”
“Yeah, he’s a good mate,” Arthur said, “but he keeps inviting me on these trips. I’m beginning to reconsida.”
I smiled to myself. I don’t know why men have such a hard time admitting that they’re best friends.
Before we went to bed, Orange made us some really good pasta with hand grated parmesan cheese and oregano flakes.
“I was goin’ to say we should bring more croissants next time,” he said, “but there won’ be a next time.” He loaded more butter and stirred. “I can’t believe you’re goin’ to leave soon.”
“Me, too. I’m definitely going to miss you,” I said, “well, actually, I’m not, because I don’t miss people.”
“Well I’m definitely going to miss you,” he teased.