24.8 kms on TA
The ocean is still with us, but we are done for the day.
It’s seven pm and k2 and I have been here at our stealth campsite for nearly two hours.
It is a lovely little spot but by no means obvious of you aren’t use to sussing out potential dry, relatively flat spots in unlikely places. This one happens to be under a grove of thick fern-like trees about 200 meters from the ocean beyond waist high thicket of beach grass laden with sea dew.
First things first, I just made my first trail dinner. On the menu tonight: vermicelli soup cooked with my own spice mix and a delicious peri peri tuna pouch I found at the local super market. I must say, the tuna and salmon pouch options here are a delightful surprise. So many mouth watering flavours to choose from and they serve asstand alone meals or as part of a cooked trail dinner.
My spice mix is a stroke of genius– if you’d permit me ego– developed on the Appalachian trial. It is never complete and always subject to adaptation based on what’s available but the basic idea is the same with few key ingredients.
For me finding coconut milk powder on the trail is akin to striking gold, only more valuable. It is at last that holds up the delicious factor of my meals.
Here’s a basic recipe:
Coconut milk powder
Various soup mixes (French onion/ creme of broccoli etc)
Crushed Kettle chips of your favourite flavour
Dried vegetable flakes or seaweed
Premade butter chicken powder
Combine all these things in a zip lock bag. As for proportions, follow your heart!
Just one pouch of each should yield enough spice mix for several meals and since some of these items are not easily come by, for me the extra few ounces are totally worth the carry. As your melange gets used up keep adding things you like but always keeping at least the coconut milk powder or something similarly creamy to make what I call the ever evolving Melange Madre.
Add a two or three spoon full to boiling water,throw in the vermicelli/ramen/stove top stuffing/or starch of choice, and your protein and voila….you got some delicious hiker chow!
Speaking of food, I left off the last entry on Scott the farmer’s timely hitch. He is a family man whose wife and children were out of town. He said that was lucky for us since he had three extra beds. K2 and I said we’d share one to minimize clean up for him.
From the moment he picked us up we or at least I liked him immediately. He was affable, cheeky and friendly to a fault. In other words the embodiment of the famous kiwi hospitality I’ve heard mention so often while working for Icebreaker.
Once he showed us to our room he gave a quick survey of the kitchen in case we wanted a cup of tea or milo. Milo is a malty hit beverage I grew up drinking in Sri Lanka but haven’t had a cup in well over two decades. It was comforting; more subtle and satisfying than hot chocolate and you know what they say about chocolate…
I made k2 and I a cup each and made Scott a cup of tea. He shared his pizza dinner with us. We had a lovely chat about his family, and showed him the places we call home on Google earth. He was delighted to see some of these places and regaled us with a fee hunting storied of his own.
What a lovely human being, and a Christian who practices all the neighborly love the Bible preaches.
In the morning, after a simple but satisfying breakfast of cereals and another cup of milo, Scott asked one of his farm hands, a gristly but chatty old kiwi by the name of Kieran to drive us to a gas station near by because there, he thought, we’d have a better luck hitching.
Scott, you gem!
Kieran turned out to be an old wanderer himself. He had tramped around America and even made his way into Canada to buy a motorcycle in his younger days. He also got his teeth filled at one of Canadians then free dental clinics, a feat of which he was both proud and grateful. He had good time touring around north America he said. But he was also full of travel weary wisdom. He was genuinely happy for us, that we were on this adventure, in his owm backyard.
After short but conversation filled ride to the petrol station he dropped us off with some choice advice: ‘Look into your selves and look after your selves.’
He gave us a hug each and we parted ways. Our luck must have turned around with trail angel Scott–who preferred to think of it was grace that put him on our path for helping us tourits who were clearly in need of some help–because we got a hitch within seconds, with the very first car.
Three strangers who met via a Facebook group had rented a car and were headed to the cape gave us a ride. One was French, the other a German and one American. They came with us to mile zero, to the light house. The American even took a Polaroid of us.
As a personal tradition of mine dictates, I shared me chocolate with them, thanking them for the ride and swami bittergoat and k2summit were on their way to thru hike Te Araroa!