Back on the Trail

It's Friday, 3rd of January 2014, and I'm on the trail again. This afternoon, I returned to Northland by coach. It's loaded with holiday-makers and people going home.

However, I don't have a home up here. Once again, I'm homeless and once again. I'm in that limbo state between one life and another. This uncomfortable feeling of excitement, sadness, anticipation and boredom is familiar. I want to be three days ahead of where I am now, well settled into the tramping lifestyle.

I'm travelling as far as Pahia, about half an hour's drive south of Kerikeri because I can't get a ticket to go further.

"Maybe," I tell Rosa, "I can hitch-hike to Kerikeri this evening."

However, in Pahia, no cars will stop for me. After 40 minutes of fruitless thumbing and with evening falling, I go shopping in the Countdown supermarket across the road.

I'm plagued by indecision. Do I start my walk tomorrow from here or do I try to hitchhike again? Do I shop for one day or for longer? What's your plan, Richard?

The shelves are poorly stocked after the holiday feeding frenzy so I'm forced to try foods and brands I don't know about. When I repack the supplies I've brought in the car park outside, I discover I have left behind the plastic zip lock bags I use to compartmentalise my meals.

It's a small omission but it momentarily floors me. What else have I forgotten?

I need to look for a place to sleep. On my iPhone map, I notice a trail leading to a lookout in the forests above Pahia.

An hour later, I make a "stealth" camp in the near-dark just off the trail. It's been a warm walk uphill but the camp is good.

I snack on bread and cheese and crawl into my hammock.

It feels like home.