car ride to Marahau went quickly, even though we stopped briefly in Motueka.
Sarah C decided to spend the day in Marahau, and she walked in to the park from there (like Tim and I did last year), and she even took a swim.
For the rest of us: Marcus was our taxi driver, and he was quite fun. He was a chef by trade, but he said he prefers driving the water taxi, meeting people, and being near nature.
After dropping other people off at different places along the way, Marcus took us to see seals near Tonga island. There were only a few to see; evidently, when the males come to mate in spring, all of the rocks are covered.
To start our hike, Marcus dropped us off at Tonga Bay in the park. We trekked about an hour and 10 minutes to Bark Bay, where we decided to take a chance at the low-tide trail... well, it was quite the adventure. When we got to the beach to walk across and back to the trail on the other side, the water was coming in, and therefore, we climbed over quite a few rocks to try to stay dry. That didn't last long. Before I knew it, my sneakers were covered with mud. I gave up and took them off.
For about 30 minutes, we enjoyed quite the mud+sand foot massage as we walked across the very wide beach. There were holes all over the sand where crabs were hiding out, and occasionally, you'd see one scurry in to its hole.
Thankfully, at the other side of the beach, there was a hut (which includes 24 bunks for trekkers staying the night, 2 nights maximum), including a spiket with water. We were able to wash up a bit before heading on. My shoes dried relatively quickly since the sun was shining bright in an almost-completely blue sky.
From Bark Bay to Anchorage Bay is supposed to be a 3.5 hour trek. We were worried, because we were to be picked up at Torrent Bay (just 45 minutes north across an estuary from Anchorage) in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Additionally, there was quite a steep up-hill trail leaving Bark Bay. We slowed down a little on the hills (up and down), as Sabine and I were nursing some aching joints. However, we kept up a very steady pace, even - or especially? - when we crossed a 5-person-only swinging bridge. This part of the trail was, I think, Sabine's least favorite. Vayu and I went ahead of her, and Evelyn came behind her, and we just kept focusing on breathing (and counting the breath, as in practice and class) and we told her to keep looking forward, NOT down or sideways. She made it over just fine, obviously, as did we all.
Several times on the trail, the trees would open up to an incredible view. Of course, we took a lot of pictures. At one point, Vayu's keen eyes stopped us for a moment to see a fascinating red mushroom with white specks on it.
The closer we got to Torrent Bay, the more trekkers we met. The day was just beautiful for hiking and for getting a clear view of all the stunning vistas.
Thankfully, when we returned to Stillpoint, Amanda, Brigid, and Sarah P-C were cooking a feast (roasted vegetables with red onion and pepper dressing; rice salad with pepitas, dates, and bananas - wow, SO good; fresh sweet corn; and salad).
The day was not yet over, however. John and Lucy had gotten a fire permit so we could have a bonfire for the autumnal equinox; they also wanted to burn a large pile of scrap wood from things they've worked on/built/etc. at Stillpoint over the past year/s. It turned out to be quite a glorious show for the "neighborhood" (keep in mind we're in farming and grazing territory). The fire chief and several firemen came out on the fire truck, as several neighbors were quite concerned that Stillpoint was on fire, and we found out that there was a ban on fires at night, and that they needed a permit for a bonfire and not just a fire. No one was harsh with words, however, and the firemen that came out got a piece of Sarah P-C's birthday cake.
In the end, the fire chief OK-ed the fire.
We sat or stood around the fire, along with Buzz (the dog), and sang some songs... well, first, Sarah C sang a traditional Scottish song (that I will type up tomorrow - quite funny), and then Amanda, Brigid, and Sarah P-C sang a song in a round. India (John and Lucy's daughter) suggested we do one of her camp songs, which was quite good... followed one or two others.
With all of that going on, it's definitely time for a GOOD NIGHT SLEEP.