After spending two nights at the Big Bush Holiday Park, (their motto: We Welcome you
like the Black Death) I set off uphill on my second of six Great Walks. The Lake Waikaremoana Track.
It was a 1,500" ascent to a ridge line overlooking a large lake lying amongst a series of
rounded hills. It looked sort of Appalachian in nature except for the forest. I was hiking
within a temperate rain forest. The trees were gnarly, misshapen and draped with green
mossy beards. The forest type would have been an appropriate backdrop for the "Headless Horseman" chase scene. It wasn't a "Joy!Joy!Happy! Happy!" looking place. It was sort of spooky.
Perched at the highest prominence of the ridge line sat the Panekire Hut. If you've been following along, by now you know my Hut angst.
I made entry while saying "Hello!" to my future too-cozy roommates. A quick look around
made me realize the joint was dirtier and grimier than most. (That says a lot!) My fellow hut mates were cooking on a few backpacker stoves. Strange. Why weren't they using the hut's stove?
Because the Lake Wiakaremoana Great Walk's Huts didn't have any stoves! Or Toilet Paper! A few huts further down the tract even lacked water! I made the Yank mistake of assuming all Great Walk Huts provided these simple amenities. Silly me!
However, what these huts provided was a warning sign concerning a rat and mouse infestation in the hovels. The Department of Conservation politely suggested we campers hang our meager provender from the hooks provided.
I mentioned my no stove plight to a family of Kiwis. The patriarch came through when he said, "No Worries! You can use ours for a few boils." Kiwis are very kind, generous and hospitable.
That problem solved, I found a reasonable sleeping space with no personal space and pitched my gear on a mattress. (Eventually there were eighteen men, women and children sleeping in a 12"x16" room.) I grabbed my Kindle for a read, and took a seat outside, waiting for dinner
My library quiet was shattered by the sound of a helicopter landing. Out of the Chopper emerged a Maori crew geared out in "Ghostbusters" attire. (Wasn't Halloween awhile ago?). The headman gathered us around and made a speech. The gist? We're from the Government and we're here to help you. Seems there's been an outbreak of Norovirus along the tract. Another apt name for this bug is the "Lose weight! Ask me how!" Virus. The crew came equipped with spray bottles of diluted Clorox to sterilize all surfaces (including the
mattresses). They went about their business as I pondered this new development.
I decided to sleep on it and wait to see what manana would bring.
I was up and about by 5 am. I wasn't the only one. Outside, a westerly wind was screeching along. There were heaps of clouds scuttering by as well. I made a snap decision.
I was still dealing with one stubborn virus, I wasn't about to go for twofers. I begged a boil of water, inhaled my trusty shot of instant Starbucks buzz and headed back down the way
If I went on, a sixteen mile trek in wind and maybe rain awaited me. My goal would have
been a hovel contains 39 other two-legged strangers and who knows how many four-legged vermin. Not very appealing. Was it?
I'm in Napier hotel room which according to New Zealand's DOC would sleep about a billion campers with gear. I'm not too bummed to have it to myself, although female type company would be nice too. (I'm still looking for my potential First Lady.)