Just when I needed it I run into some fellow NOBOs.

A big day from Schoolhouse Bay, 31 km, where I maintain the pace, desperate to redo the walk, two days back to Anakiwa. Tomorrow will be the same, except with more climbing.

When I reached the Bay of Many Coves Shelter, getting on in the day, there were four bods in occupation who turned out to be have been following in my footsteps.

I’m instantly recognised, “GJ!”

I was the guy who started around the same day but they never quite caught up with, but in the way the trail works many of the people I have encountered heading south have passed on some of their experiences with me. And they have read my notes in the hut books.

This was the way the trail should end, not just the wet, lonely mess that I had been feeling.

We had a long discussion about the places, the people, the whole experience of the last 11 weeks.

There was the whole bucket of hopes and dreams, and how to retain the insights of this arduous trek after returning to the modern world with all its distractions and responsibilities.

We sit at the picnic table overlooking the view, three philosophers and two thoughtful listeners, we have immediately bonded, with those similar experiences. We are all ridiculously happy, smiley and thoughtful and open with our feelings, what we loved and disliked, but to be honest there has been little on the negative side.

Peter and Andrew are continuing on to the North Island, realising that it will be a completely different experience. Us other three have some other agenda, for me more eating of fresh food and washing self and probably just chucking away my clothing high on the list of the most important things to do.

And then there’s this whole new life I am embarking on, the shape of which is not entirely apparent.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Bay of Many Coves campsite

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