Lost and found

Rain pouring down in the grey city New Plymouth I ask myself “what am I doing here?” The forecast tells me it will clear but I had no desire to stick around. I came here to climb the damn thing now I had to stay and wait. I found a freedom camping spot on the map in the midst of the forest. Gathered groceries for a couple of days and hit gravel, dirt road with potholes, narrow between the trees. In the glade stoot only a longdrop toilet and a big grass field leading up a red forest. Surrounded all alone in the dense Taranaki bush.

The rain had cleared, I set up my kitchen, cooked myself a meal uncorked the bottle and enjoyed the evening in lush. With rain coming and going I explored my surrounding little by little, days became a week. An old signpost marked a 2.5 hour return journey. The rain had stopped and clouds disappeared a beautiful day for a hike on a not well maintained slippery track. The trail led me to the hilltop still to be a few hundred meters up. A stunning view over the ocean and mount Taranaki towering over the land.

If it was the end of the trail or I missed a mark I will never know. I continued over paths that suddenly ended in the midds of the forest. I had tried backtracking my steps but was going around in circles. I was lost, no phone, no map standing in unknown territory. Yet I felt no panic I was at ease feeling like it is home. I started the trip late that day and to my sense of time I had been walking for the past 5 hours. The earth turns and the sun melts into the horizon. I had to spent the night in the forest, unprepared only boots, shirt and short. Tomorrow another day I settled myself on the forest floor covered in ferns I slept without fear. In and out of dreams listening to the creatures of the night.

Dawn breaks and I rise, UP is the way to go, UP is where I came from, looking up to find the hill and I did. Bush bashing and a bit of rock climbing brought me to the top, the place where I had lost track. It was so easy to find my way, not regretting the adventure of the night before. Now I was eager to get back, too eager, with strong pace on the slippery slope I tumbled and fell. Landing on my arm made my shoulder pop out of it’s socked. Gusts of pain fill my shoulder, not the first time this had happened but it had been years now. Muscles loosened like elastic, why did this happen I ask. The air remained silent.

With my limbs back in place I descended careful and slowly. Walking for another hour to peek trough the red forest seeing my trusty carriage waiting for me. I remained in this magical place for another couple of days to set out to what I came here to do.

Early morning I slide the door to the outside world. A clear blue sky at the foot of mount Taranaki. All geared up, this time prepared I start the climb. From tarmac to dirt from steps till snow. Tough trough it’s steepness but easy in path. Until I hit the gravel. My feet sink ankle deep into the steep lake of tiny stones. One step up, two steps back I carry myself to the ridge. A steep drop into the white below. I feel the fear of falling, courageous but gentle I boulder over the lava set to stone.

My van parked at the Taranaki visitor centre

As if nature plays a game, clouds set in thick and cold and bring me to a halt. I look out over the perfect green circle below. Adding layers of clothes, I decide it’s lunch time. The fresh air on this altitude make me shiver while I eat my muesli bars. Rewarded for my patience, nature makes way for me to look down the crater on the tower of the north.

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