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Published: December 22nd 2014
Packed up and rolling out of the cabin by mid-morning. A couple of hours' drive brings me to Kaiuma Bay. I park the car next to a frustrated draught-horse and head off into the heat. And it is hot. Half an hour in and I'm drenched in sweat again. Maybe I need to change swap to cold hikes. When does sweating become bad for you? I don't remember ever being this wet on a track (when it wasn't raining).
On through the weird mix of ruined sounds landscape with large areas of (lethal) pine forest where once there would've been podocarp and diversity. Three and a bit hot hours later and I'm at the Nydia hut. This is no ordinary DOC hut - it was built as a youth centre (some of the maps still show it as such) but was handed over to DOC a few years back. It sports 50(!) bunks in a scattered collection of building and has facilities including a generator and hot showers...all a bit weird really, especially as I'm the only guest here tonight. My hosts however are fascinating. A couple (21) out of the states on a trip to escape the northern winter
(New York City and Minnesota respectively), they are taking opportunities where they can to do things such as hut-wardening here for a month. That would be an awesome experience for anyone but, for these two, it's almost tailor-made. They're both aspiring writers and spend the days in opposite ends of the hut complex working in their very different styles on their very different literary work.
As you can probably imagine, I'm in my element here. I do escape for an afternoon 3.5 hour run/hike to the "other" pass, then throw my weary body off the wharf into the cold high-tide waters (slicing my toe on a oyster-shell, but we'll ignore that) but I'm back at the hut before 8pm.
The three of us then spend most of the night discussing the world of literature. It's fascinating (and enriching) to see two young, excited, educated, knowledgeable, intelligent, aspiring young minds making sense of the world and planning their way towards Nobel prizes (we decided Shelley will get hers first, then Bobby). I know neither will think me patronising when I say that meeting young people with such a deep love of real literature reaffirms my belief in mankind (we
agreed I should forgive them a love of the Harry Potter nonsense - every generation is allowed one of those and they do at least recognise its lack of quality). Maybe there's hope in the world yet. Maybe there's hope for the USA yet! I'd love to find that one of these two did indeed win a Pulitzer or even a Nobel in my lifetime.
Before we know it, it's midnight on the longest day of the year, the stars are out in abundance, but we all need to sleep.
We retire to our respective bunks, minds full of aspiration.
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