From the very beginning of the 15 kilometers, we struggled with the flooded pathway. After less than 10 steps I slipped clumsily into a mud pit. Although I saved my camera from the mud, my backpack got the worst of it instead. The weight of the backpack and the slippery mud disabled me from moving. Instead, I was floundering like a tortoise upside down. But apart from this incidence, we started in good spirits. Especially Lima who seemed baffled with the surroundings. Not because it was extraordinary landscapes, but because it is just the way she is sometimes. For Julia and me it was almost more hopping than hiking, as the trail was consistently flooded. I had knee high rubber boots which made things tolerable but Julia had leaking Gore-tex boots so she had bigger problems with the water.
As I’ve described earlier on the blog, some species of birds tend to approach you while hiking on New Zealand. Every now and then, they just fly up to you and nicely greet you on branches. I find their presence to be spiritually encouraging, and it made Lima look around more curiously. One bird, however, that is very shy and elusive is the kiwi. It is a strictly night active flightless bird. It was the reason why we were going to Mason bay – the best place in the world to see one. All the friendly birds and the daydreaming of kiwi’s made the time fly, and by the time we reached about halfway the worst flood was passed.
But the challenge was far from over. Apart from that, there were still large water-filled sections to refill Julia’s boots and dark clouds were gathering above us. The rain was bearable, but the wind was fierce erratic. The wind blew so strong, that we almost fell several times. That could be dangerous especially for Lima who can’t protect herself from branches or stones. Julia and I held hands for her safety.
The gusts and the rain made us tired. The wind was also discomforting for Lima who started crying. We walked a little bit more but as Lima’s crying would not cease we decided to take a longer break. We found a place covering us leeward. We ate our sandwiches, while Lima got some sweet banana and vanilla paste, which quickly raised her mood.
The further we got, the stronger the gust got. It didn’t take long until Lima was crying with both rain and wind in her face again. The rain and the wind were not so strong that we needed to worry about her health (a rain cover covered her from most angles), but it made us stressed and uncomfortable. Her crying slowly by slowly broke our mentality and spirits. It was worst for Julia who carried her as she couldn’t see her, nor get away from the deafening sound.
We temporarily gave up and sat hopelessly down in the mire-like landscape. This time no bushes were protecting us from the vigorous wind. We had some snickers while Lima refilled her energy by suckling. A strange “beep-beep” alarm sound was heard from somewhere. I looked at my Suunto-watch. A text was blinking across it: STORM WARNING
Electrical impulses make it possible for the human mind to react within a tenth of a second, which was approximately the time it took until we were walking again. The hike in wet shoes, a heavy bag, and rainy weather had been bad enough as it was, and it seemed as if it was going to get worse. How much worse? We couldn’t know. And we couldn’t know if it was going to be a storm at all. Maybe we overreacted? All we knew was that it had already been a hell of a day and it didn’t seem to get better.
Although we told you in the previous blog post that we were going to hike 15 kilometers – we did not know beforehand ourselves the distance while hiking. People we talked with came with different details of the track length, varying from 11 to 17 kilometers. This meant that we didn’t have any real idea how far we had left. Most of them said it would be a 4-hour hike only – but that is calculated with a daypack and no flooding. After running with our backpacks for a kilometer or so, we finally saw a sign: 15 minutes to Mason Bay. All the wiggling back and forth had made Lima fall asleep and the last part of our hike was quite enjoyable in a forested area.
The good thing about getting exhausted and soaked wet feet on a hike is that nothing will taste better than a warm cup of tea inside at the fire. Brand or flavor won’t matter. You’ve made it. And now we could finally start our search for the kiwi – one of the world’s most elusive animals. As we entered the hut, the wind howled loudly on the outside. The sky opened. The storm had arrived.