• Barbara Murphy-Shannon

New Zealand - The End of the Track. Chapter 5

Updated: Oct 28

Our last night around the table was a happy, loud affair.

After dinner, we all went to bed. Big day ahead of us tomorrow. Last day of the Milford Track.

I cuddled into the lower bed with Beth above me in the bunk and Andy and Peter across the room. It’s bizarre, we haven’t known each other very long, Me, Beth, Peter, and Andy, yet we feel like a family.



These guys are our bros.

Somedays, I find Peter funny as hell, and his mellifluous attitude is adorable. He also has a habit of getting naked…a lot. I guess you could call him a naturist or maybe an exhibitionist. I don’t judge. Let’s just say he’s very comfortable in his skin.


On the other hand, there is Andy. He is courteous, conciliatory, and even deferential when we have deep conversations. Not that he doesn’t have his wild side too. One night, out of the blue, Andy picks up Beth’s sports bra and proceeds to stretch and manipulate it over his head onto his chest. I have no idea how he got it on. But the best part was him trying to get it off. He looked like Houdini trying to get out of a straitjacket. Contorting his body in unnatural positions, all the while, we’re rolling on the floor laughing. Poor Beth, that bra never looked the same again.



But anytime men and women are together 24/7, sleeping in the same room in the wilderness...things are bound to get tricky.


Like the time I tried to pick up Andy.


You know when you flirt with someone, and you're suuuuuper socially awkward? (To be fair, I'm talking about me.).


You know what I'm talking about. You nonchalantly rub up against him and laugh at everything he says and sit next to him, closer than would be considered normal for friends, shirt unbuttoned, cradling two beers and reaching out to pass one to him, and exposing a little breast when suddenly a group of hikers come over and sit on the same picnic table and start talking to you, so you sort of panic because you don't know if they know or if they saw you sticking out your tits?

So, you quickly make a joke about it in case they DO know, to relieve any awkwardness, because you're good at making jokes in awkward situations, except maybe you shouldn't make a joke about it because if they don't know, now they WILL know, and then you'll probably just look pitiful. (Not to mention, what kind of hussy makes jokes about sleeping with someone on a picnic table full of strangers?) *slowly raises hand* *hurriedly tucks it back down to avoid looking like a psycho to the whole group.


I run back to the hut embarrassed, and see Peter and Beth talking.


Strangely, I feel jealous of Beth when Peter shows her more attention than me.

Why do I care?

I don’t care.

Who the fuck knows why we have these stupid thoughts?

What am I back in junior high? Hello Mr. Cotter.

Ok, we cuddle and hug passionately and sleep in the same bed, and the pièce de résistance—we don’t have SEX…..


That's why it works.

If I do start having sex, it’s going to get weird.

I can guarantee it.


I don’t trust myself.


I am in no way emotionally prepared to have casual sex. My luck, I’d get attached and then hurt again. I’m programmed to feel a connection after I sleep with someone. I think a lot of us are.

Nope! No one-night stands.

That’s it.

I’m not gonna think about it.

Done!

I’m not going to give it another thought.

I’m gonna close my eyes and go to sleep.

Fuck!!! It’s not working.

We left the Dumpling Hut early in the morning because we needed to be at the dock to catch the boat by 2 pm, so we walked at a fast pace for 5 hours.

They say they saved the best for last, and they weren’t kidding. Incredible scenery included several spectacular waterfalls, suspension bridges, and crystal-clear creeks. Beautiful McKay Falls and Lake Ida before hiking past the last waterfall on the track, named Giant Gate Falls.

I kept eating bugs because my mouth was hanging open in pure awe!

“We should go back to Giant Gate and take a Christmas photo,” Beth yells.

“Yes, let’s do it,” I said.

“We’ll catch up, guys.” We yelled as we ran back down the trail.

After the last fall, it took another hour and a half walk to reach Sandfly Point and the end of the Milford Track.

We had been warned time and time again about the army of insects awaiting us at Sandfly Point.

Don’t arrive too soon, or you’ll get eaten alive, alerted the rangers. Pour a bottle of insect repellent over yourself before going within a mile of the place, they said.

When we arrived at Sandfly Point, my only thought was — we had made it!

We had five minutes until the boat left. I didn't notice any sandflies, but I wasn't hanging around to find them either.