By the time I reached the junction, the skies began to weep again. Cars and trucks hissed by on the main road, trailing spray over wet tarmac,No hope of a lift here: the road was dead straight.
Two of hours of daylight remained with about 14 kilometres to cover. Had I been fit and fresh, I would have attempted it but not now, not with ruined feet, not in a rain-soaked dusk and not with tired drivers impatient to reach home.
Anyway, I hate walking on roads.
Miserably, I reached into my only support, the sodden canvas rucksack, and chewed tomorrow's lunch of soggy chorizo, crumbled oat cakes and a rain-slicked energy bar.
I used my socks as hand-cloths to wipe the mud off my legs.
Some of the "new age-ies" I come across breathlessly affirm the Universal Law of Attraction. I could just hear them now saying smugly, "You created this situation. How are you going to get out of it?"
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I closed my eyes and visualised a car slowing down and stopping with a friendly voice asking me to hop in. I even felt a little spring of joy at the thought.
Maybe there is something in it, after all, because whether by luck, coincidence or Universal Attraction, five minutes later a grey pick-up pulled up, a window rolled down and a friendly voice asked, "D'you need a lift?"
I leaped to my feet and clutched the door like a drowning sailor grasping a plank.
"Yes, please! Are you going to the next forest?"
She was but she'd have to stop and turn on the water at a cow trough and was that OK?
I climbed into a heated cab.
She didn't wrinkle her nose and she didn't gape at the grey stubble on my face.
She was the wife of the farmer I had chatted with earlier.
Her name was Yvonne.
And she was an angel.
I told her so.
She looked pleased.
"Heard you chattin' with my husband a while ago," she said. "I peeked through the kitchen window and said to myself, 'He'll be wantin' a ride!'"
She twinkled, "Was I right?"
We stopped to water the cows. Driving on, she regaled with me stories of lost, injured, frightened, and fed up Te Araroa trampers.
"Some take two days to get through that forest," she said.
I told her I called it Mirkwood from the forest in the "The Hobbit".
"It is like that," she agreed. "We don't go in there."
The miles flew by and soon we reached the gravel road that led into the next forest. She dropped me there and with deep thanks, I said farewell to the angel Yvonne.
But my luck was still in.
While looking for a clearing, I came across a sign pointing to a disused DOC campsite.
At the campsite I found Lisa and Rusty.
Lisa and Rusty had a campervan.
And they'd built a fire.
And they were making seafood marina pasta.
And they insisted I eat it with them.
So I did.