I took out my earplugs and was greeted to the sound of light rain on the roof of the hut. The early start to make it to town for pizza was dashed. The baby in the hut only cried a couple of times during the night but my fatigue had me in a deep sleep most of the night.
The trail climbed several hundred meters through muddy forest and remote trails. It was time to leave the foothills of the Tararua range and get a pizza. I descended a steep and slippery slope less than an hour before a carpark and roadwalk. A couple were walking up the hill and asked if I was hiking the Te Araroa trail. Before I had time to answer they said, “Shepherd, what are you doing here, remember us”. My confused mind didn’t recognize them. “Cashmere and Physio”, they said before I had time to say anything. We met briefly while hiking the PCT in 2015. Almost always 1-3 days apart for the whole trail. They had no idea I was hiking the TA and I had no idea they lived nearby in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.
Half an hour of catching up and I had a place to stay in Wellington but it was still about 100km away and I was on a mission to get there. But first my hiker hunger needed satisfying. 7 days in the wilds had my food supply at zero and my metabolism burning fat at a rapid rate. I needed calories and I needed them soon.
10am photo below
It was 2pm when I finished a large satay chicken pizza. A combination that strangely worked. Now to satisfy my other craving of fruit and yogurt which I purchased for the next days breakfast.
Mrs Zigzag met me at our campground, she was visiting her brother who lives nearby. My hiking buddies asked if I knew everyone in New Zealand. It had been that kind of day where I met old friends that reminded me that I’m so very grateful for the chance to live my life the way I do. No regrets in giving up a career for moments and days like this.