We were two small people in a fragile world that needed care. Some of the people we have met get it.
So we finished up early and ate a big block of chocolate together. I could hear his mind thinking; gee Dad, I can't believe you're letting me eat ALL this!
Saxon hut is one of the best we've stayed in. Great little valley, tree covered mountains around and a small creek 100m away.
At one stage we approached an extremely fast moving stream creating rapids and currents across our only path.
Sometimes we chatted and sometimes we walked. But we always were looking around. A cicada nymph crawled over the ground, purple flowers grew from palms,white fungus grew on the forest floor and bird calls could be heard in the thick bush.
A feast of honey soy chicken for breakfast left us with 1 pack o two minute noodles and a 14 km walk ahead. (we also had some nuts and cranberries) The morning was beautiful, high cloud and sunshine. Everything was glistening after the rain.
We chatted for a long time with Frank and Ben, a couple of blokes from France working on a fishing documentary.
Landslides had ripped a huge grey scar over the path, throwing it Ono the river which was now a brown torrent.
Last night he woke up about 3am a bit upset. 'What's up mate?' 'I miss Mum' 'So do I, come here and give me a hug'
Golden rays hitting the rocky snow covered crags, waterfalls tumbling down, deep green forests all around.....
Around 5 pm the valley opened to a stunning junction of rivers, several kilometres squared. Mountains all around with an amazing level plateau of grass gently sloping to the north.
To say I was dissapointed is an understatement of epic proportions. Shattered is apt.
He told us that a couple of bridge crossing had been washed away 2 day walk away and that no-one had been through yet. Well, there is only one way to check this out......tomorrow we step forth into the great unknown.
I thought this would be tough for Lucas and I. In some ways it was, especially seeing the tears from Alayne and Isabelle. Lucas surprised me.....he wanted to continue. He had a choice. Lucas wanted to touch the ocean at Cape Farewell.
Peel Forest is one of those towns you sometimes stumble across and wonder why you'd never heard of it before.
Brods 4 wheel drive skills were evident. He told us stories of the time he actually floated down a swollen river in the car, only to reach land, hit reverse and make it to safety.
Lucas is the kind if bloke who needs to be constantly moving. When he is moving and doing, he is absorbed in the moment.
I've seen some great things in my life....many times on my own. That's a lonely thing, going to a remote place and having no-one to share the experience with. Not the case here. This is what it is all about. Sharing. The little bloke I was with was loving this as much as I.
The sun setting was special. Clouds were falling down the steep slopes around us, like giant golden waterfalls. They would reach a certain level and simply burn away. Lucas was enthralled. It was a beautiful after dinner str
We chatted about the journey, about life, friends an family. Dad and I watched Lucas play on the front lawn, catching skins exactly like I had done over 30 years before.
Sleep was interesting. The angle ensured my body continually slipped to the bottom end of the tent. The fact that I'd taken Lucas small sleeping may ensured at least half my body was on the cold ground. The wind which hit around 1am ensured I was fully awake in order to fully take in the first two.
Our highlight was eating possibly the best 1kg of cherries created. Wonderful
Righto, if this what you want. Lets see what this little man can do! That'd make it around 21km for the day covering some hard country. It was freezing.
Bugger it, lets see what the morning brings....this in New Zealand and the weather can change quickly, either way. But geez that rain is hard
We stopped for a good 45 mins soaking up the view and sun. Every step up just opened up the outlook. It became more and more stunning.
Great to spend a few more days with Dad. He has been incredibly supportive coming over here and making sure all is ok.
Not sure what we will do, but whatever it is will not involve mountains or backpacks for a few days.
The fact that it was snowing intermittently could with strong winds made it more challenging.
The tussock was slippery and the scree along cutaways was prone to give way. Slowly slowly this section went. It was hot out of the wind and cold when the wind came up just to remind you that it could, if it wanted
What would it be like if he came back with his child one day.....or.....as he has asked me many times whilst walking; "will you come back with me when you are 60 dad?"
So we had a rest. I elevated it. I've strapped it. Having ITB and bow legs doesn't help the cause! Lots of stretching.
Thought I'd throw a fishing line in along the way and caught a big one. Really. Truly I did catch it and.....it got away.
Someone really smart told me if you walk up, you eventually will walk down. The thing is, we ended up at around the same altitude we started. I'm no mathematician but that meant the last 2 km would be steep. And I had a sore knee. Maybe Lucas could carry the pack?
It was again just the two of us, back out into the mountains and the next adventure. The walking was beautiful.
The five of us took off up a nearby valley exploring a very beaten up old track. It was slow bumpy going. After 45 mins or so we found the perfect spot to sit and have lunch. It was as though there were no one else for 1000 miles, just us eating chicken sandwiches, mountains surrounding us two magnificent rivers converging close by and a cloudless sky.
So we have settled in or the afternoon/evening. It's 5pm, the fire is going and it's pouring outside. Lucas is practising his reading and I'd say dinner will be early.
Never underestimate the good in people. There is a reason for everything, and for that, there is a reason.
Leaving the mountains behind we looked at where we had come over....tall, steep and crystal clear. To the north, taller, steeper and crystal clear.
It was a tough day. Warm beverage and stomachs full, it's now behind us. Tomorrow 18km, hopefully some sunshine and our last hut for this section.
It was the first time Lucas was speechless since we started. Only because he was breathing so hard.
At one stage we came over a rise to find a helicopter taking off with several tyres well alight dangling below.
We will stay 2 nights here.....thaw out and full up!
15 km of this and we were getting tired. My head was constantly swivelling at this stage looking for a good place to set up tent
Up up up through thick forest and onwards to Martins Hut, a great little backcountry hideaway complete with open fire, some bunks and a leakless roof.
On we pushed for another 10.5 km into Riverton. Exhausted. Walking in that wind was incredibly tough. Again, Lucas truly impressed me. He talked. I mostly listened
Lucas and I walked a few more km's and stopped to rest the legs ( well, I needed to) Lucas found some pampas grass seed heads and made swords, insisting I get up and challenge him. Where the energy came I have no bloody idea. He won.
A few emails and a couple of chats later with the head of marketing, Madeleine Cook, and things are looking positive. I was impressed with Madeleine's enthusiasm and questions regarding our journey. Im confident that through exposure and some good press, the outcome will be fantastic for both Macpac and walkingwithdad. More on this later. I have some ideas.
This is my first attempt at writing anything since school. (And school was definitely not one of my favourite places) So please persevere with my ramblings, my terrible grammar/spelling and general often non sensical frame of mind. As confused as you may become, imagine being me!
Ive been thinking about this for over 13 years.....walking the length of New Zealand's South Island, following the Southern Alps. And then, I met Alayne. Everything came to a grinding halt. In a good way. So we got married, had 2 spectacular children and created a home. But Im a restless kind of bloke.