Trails and Sun [Motatapu Track, 07.-08.01.2020]

I’m standing in my red swim shorts outside the food truck and bite into a fried kiwi. We just returned from an overnight hike and the girl from Utah we gave a ride back to Wanaka told us about the nearest laundry-o-mat, conveniently in the back of the central gas station of very sunny Wanaka and a very promising looking burger and more food truck on the opposite side.

Everything around me seems more colorful and more intense.

This is one of the side effects I get after an overnight hike. Experiencing everything a bit more intense. The bright sun, the wind across the big lake, the sizzling of fries in hot oil, my matching red shirt and shorts, the bold little sparrows around my feet and the steam coming from my fried kiwi.

This is the first real laundry since we left Germany 10 days ago. A short hand wash and way more tolerance than back home – I say it’s the great merino wool shirts – gave us quite relaxed days with our light travel gear. But after the hike of the last two days in the sun we are definitely thankful for a real laundry machine. And a shower later in the lake.

I nibble on my kiwi and think about the last days.

We walked the first leg of the Motatapu Track to stay overnight in the Fern Burn Hut, nicely tucked into a valley, to give Bridget her first backcountry hut experience. I always say that’s THE THING about New Zealand. Walking the tracks and staying overnight at backcountry huts.

The Motatapu trail was not difficult, yet still demanding with the slightly overgrown grass and the burning sun. It took us three hours through forests and along hills to find an almost completely full hut with three women and their 6 young girls. One other solo hiker is there. The hut is situated along the Te Aroaroa Thruhike and quite popular for weekend hikers. We spent almost the whole day outside, sitting in the shade and greeting the hikers who decided to walk on. Sandflies, wasps and mosquitos seemed to us better company than the loud and very excited girls inside the hut.

“You know, I would say the mothers really do an awesome thing, taking their daughters out on this hike and adventure. But I still wish it was not us sharing the hut at the same time.” I guess even without the girls we would still be sitting outside and look down the valley, munching on some nuts and chocolate.

The night was cold and gave Bridget’s new sleeping bag a first real test. We lay snug in the full room, our sleep only interrupted by one of the mum’s impressive snoring. And something outside. Badoom badoom. I opened my eyes and tried to adjust to the darkness. Something was one the porch, running and pounding. And someone inside tried to shush it away without waking us up. We crawled out of the sleeping bags and went to the door where the late arrived hiker who slept on the floor tried to fight something off in the darkness. A Possum, totally going nuts on our boots and shoes outside. Every time he opened the door a crack to scare it away it tried to get inside unimpressed.

We tried a flashlight which didn’t help to get the possum away but merely gave Bridget an awww for the creature. “Why are all these animals so cute around the world and in America they are just scary looking critters?”

We giggled about the possum’s stunts outside and just hoped we would find our boots again tomorrow.

“I think the laundry is ready” Bridget states. “Shall we hang everything up and then grab a coffee before we leave town?” “And another pie?” We drape our wet stuff in creative ways inside our van and head down to the lake.

I wonder when we will do laundry again. Things that are so important back home – showers, laundry, variety of clothes – just disappear when we spend our days outside. Except the pie. A proper pie is important after a long hike.

Also, I got my first sunburn. On the upper sides of my hands from a stroll along the lakefront when I didn’t think about sunscreen because it was windy and cold. I am glad I wore a long sleeve I think looking at the red skin, slowly healing. A sunburn on my hands. Wow.

For the concerned: Yes, we took “showers” in New Zealand. Mostly as dips into the ice-cold lakes on the South Island, rinses with our own solar shower – or the black plastic bag – and swims in the ocean in the north.

One Comment

  1. Looks like it was an amazing trek. Did I read your dates correctly at Jan 7-8 2020? A nice trip just before lock down. Hope all is well back home for you both! Thinking of you often… here they just opened up back country camping. We booked our first trip for late August!

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