We left National Park after a nice breakfast, feeling somewhat let down by the faulty internet access and lack of an ATM. We hit the trail, ready and rejuvinated by our short break. It was a little hard to find the trail, because we didn't realize at first that Fisher's Track was part of the Mountain to Sea cycling trail and those were the signs we had to follow. We haven't gotten lost yet, though!
I live in absolute terror of missing a turn off or of dropping something essential, like the water purifier, which will force us to backtrack.
As promised by Lyle, Fisher's Track was mostly downhill, mostly gravel road. There was a section of it that was just a walking track, although it was amusingly sign-posted as "Public Road" to distinguish it from the (larger) driveway leading up to some farm in the hills.
At one point, there was an abandoned house below us on the track, barely visible through a gap in the trees. Later, when the trail looped around and brought it fully into view, Bethany could not resist the temptation for exploration. With our backpacks hidden on the hillside and only wild goats for an audience, we clambered down the unsure footing of tussock covered hillside, across a (goat-smelling) river and into the overrun grounds of a formerly beloved house. There was definitely a woman's touch to the house - flowery curtains, red textured glass in the doorway. It was also definitely long gone. A few articles of clothing visable from the window were well on their way to rotting right off their hangers. The walls and door were shoddily repaired with pieces of corrugated tin and haphazard pieces of old timber. The glass on one window (at least) was broken and people had clearly squatted there before. When Bethany climbed in (while I, with scenes from horror movies running through my head, waited calmly outside and informed her that if she started screaming for help, I would do the smart thing and run away) she found a magazine from the 50s, and newspapers dating between the 70s and the 2000s. She didn't open the pantry because it made a creaking noise when she approached it, which creeped even her out.
We later found out that perhaps our explorations were ill-conceived. According to a local farmer we befriended, the family who owns that land are real back-country, hateful sorts who despise any sort of change and certainly will not stand to have strangers, especially foreign strangers, traipsing around their land. Dan told us that a cyclist once left his bike locked to their gate for a few hours as he went for a mini hike to stretch his legs. One of them found it and drove over it a couple times with his pickup to make the lack of welcome clear.
We finished Fisher's Track and decided to push on to Retaruke Road because I knew we had a big day ahead of us on the morrow. And then we got kind of stuck. We kept walking and walking down this road and their was endless farmland on either side. There was no where to camp, no access to the river (which we crossed often) because it was all fenced off. Finally, we could go no further. I, certainly, was at the end of my rope. We found a likely looking stand of pine trees near a gate in the endless fence line and sneaked on in. With our hammocks slung low and towards the back of the trees, they were difficult to see, and a large hill protected us from view somewhat on the other side.
The cows seemed to find us quite odd and had nothing to do with us.
We spent the last hour of daylight cooking and... Giving me a tattoo! Yes, I know some of you will have mixed, or entirely negative feelings about this, but I found it pretty amazing. It's a tiny little triangle on my wrist, identical to a that of a couple friends, and is dedicated to adventuring and encouraging people to follow their dreams. I've wanted it for a while and now I am the fifth Freedom Expert. And, honestly, how many people are given their first tattoo with a needle and some ink while camping anarchistically in a cow field in New Zealand? The hilarious part was that after the tattoo was finished, I didn't even notice it. Compared with everything else, it did not even register on the pain scale.