A calls me the smule (Sarah+mule) for my "ability" to carry heavy bags long distances, although the price paid for loading me up is an increase in the volatility of my temper...much like a mule I suppose. A thought it was a pretty original nickname until we found out that the German-speaking boyfriend of another friend of ours with similar "abilities" calls her esel, which is German for donkey! Anyway, it was a refreshing change not to be loaded up this time, and it eased my worries about being out of practice - the Pouakai Circuit is a three day walk and I couldn't remember the last time I had done a proper overnight tramp.
So, the Pouakai Circuit - it's a fantastic track that covers varied terrain - it takes you through native bush and above the tree-line, across a swamp and streams, and over a gorge on a swing bridge. There are also ladders up to peaks (or down, depending which way you walk the trail), which I really enjoyed. There's something sort of nicely incongruous about finding boardwalk and ladders and bridges in the wilderness. I really appreciate how much easier they make it to walk the track, and it's encouraging to think of the hard work other people have done to transport the materials and construct them - it always puts any tiredness in perspective!
Because it was Easter, there were lots of people doing the circuit and the huts were full. We camped outside Holly Hut the first night and the second night we slept in a shelter - a roof, three walls, and benches around the walls wide enough to sleep on and just long enough to fit the four of us. Suprisingly we seemed to be the only ones to think of staying there, so we had it all to ourselves. We even got treated to one of my favourite sounds - rain on a corrugated iron roof at night. And this is what we woke up to (btw, all photos courtesy of A):
It's good to be back!