I started out with a nice breakfast in town and checked the weather forecast again. Expected thunderstorms at around 4pm. I had 32km on the road and another 10km uphill to the hut which was located on a ridge. So I had two options – either staying another day in town and starting the next day or getting into the hut before the thunderstorm. I opted for the second option and officially decided to cheat a little bit. My plan was to catch a ride as close as possible to the end of the road so I would make it. So I left town and walked out for about an hour when I started to get a ride. Three cars later a young guy pulled over and asked me where I wanted to go. After we figured it out on the map Marc said that he had never been out there before but he would give it a try. So we drove and started chatting – and this is the reason why I love this country! Marc had organised all his things for today and just drove me as far as his car could make it on the 4×4 track. Next to this sensational gesture of hospitality we had a very interesting chat about the different current geopolitical issues and to summarise it – we would probably be able to solve them if somebody would let us. I vote Marc vie president. Thanks for this great morning, Marc!
And then I went into the bush.

600m to climb and it was raining – sometimes more, sometimes less and again the rain jacket game was on. On and off. The trail was extremely muddy and I had wet feet after just a little bit coming from the rain, the water I swiped off the grass and from being stuck in the mud.

Anything exciting or pleasurable? No, I have to admit one of my least favourite parts so far. The bush was dense so also no views at all. My new shoes on top were not helpful as well. The stiffer sole does not give me good grip on the slippery rocks, roots and clay. I don’t know if we really will become friends…
And after a while I looked down on my camera bag where I usually place my hat if it gets to hot – but it was gone! I must have lost it in one of the narrow and overgrown parts without noticing it. Grrrr…! So I dropped my pack and ran back. I found the hat about where I had been half an hour before. Learning: never have any equipment unsecured!

I am also approaching the 2.000km mark which I will reach tomorrow. So 2.000km done and 1.000km to go. Two thirds already over ?
And on top the 2.000km marker seems to be an equipment killer or the maximum distance for some of the gear. After my shoes had to be finally exchanged I forgot to tell you that also one of my walking poles broke on the Round the Mountain track – one of the metal tips broke off. Today then on my way up I could feel that my socks again had holes in the back. I could feel the rubbing but was to lazy in the rain to get a new pair out. Let’s see if I will have to pay for that.

I was hoping to have the hut to myself to be able to start a nice fire and dry all my gear but when I reached the hut I could spot another person in it. I assumed it was a hunter since it is hunting season for stags which are heavily roaring currently. This is also why I now always wear my orange rain cover on my backpack…
Turned out that Paul was just a normal tramper from Wellington enjoying a week of from work. We talked until late. Paul was also in the process of orientation. He was considering to change jobs and / or profession. But different to me with over 50. So he was very interested in my ideas and thoughts of the last 1,5h years. After a while and him thinking about my story he told me about a famous saying quoting “The teacher arrives when the student is ready”. Quite funny when you think about it what, when and how some of your major decisions in life have been influenced by someone or something and they are very often. And most of the time they are most probably not even aware of it. But you probably have been in a mindset to receive, listen or just being open enough to follow up on a something that mad you think twice.