Randomtrailtales 2095 – 2279km: I feel the end of the trail coming closer every day and I begin to long for home more and more (although I still have 800km to do). I caught some kind of stomach bug 6 days ago and have lost my appetite ever since with frequent hasty visits to the toilet. This is generally not a good combination with walking between 30km a day and soon I was becoming thin, weak and less motivated. To top it all off ‘ex-Cyclone Fehi’ hit New Zealand just as we had a 20km road walk into Arthur’s Pass. As we had expecting the storm to hit soon, we had been hiking fast to get over all the rivers before the potential flash floods came, as more that 2 meters of rain was expected to fall in one day with warnings for gale force winds. We packed up our tents early in the streaming rain hoping to get some miles in before the big trucks hurtled down the road. The road walk was the worst ever, a narrow windy Alpine road going 14% degrees up towards the Pass with no shoulder to seek protection. Just as the winds began to really pick up we finally reached the safety of the Hostel, only to find multiple buckets next to my bunk bed catching the drops from the leaking sealing, oh, and sorry but the heating is out of order! Everything seems to be falling apart as the strain of the kilometers are beginning to take their toll. My backpack frame pops out of its position more than four times a day, my tent has several holes in it and my toothbrush just broke in two. It’s clear my gear won’t last much longer and doesn’t have another adventure in them after more than 8000 km of trails. All these things have an effect on ones mood and motivation and it is clear that the mental challenge is there for all of us as more and more strong people around us decide to call it quits and leave the Trail for good. I count my blessings as I trudge on…………. …………. ………….. ………..The longer I spend the the back country, the more I see how similar I am to my surroundings. Everything blends. Just as the water that flows ever downwards following gravity, I too looking for the route of least resistance going around boulders and fallen trees. After a long day in the heat of the strong sun after leaving Hanmer Spings, we stopped for the night at a tiny orange old hut. There were six of us (and only two bunks), we unpacked our bags and made some food in the grass in front of the hut. The super moon rose (one day before it would turn blood red behind the clouds), I couldn’t but help to notice that we looked very much like a family of Gorillas in the mist. Sharing nuts, patting each other on the back after the long day and waving away sand flies from each other‘s heads. Screeching with laughter, we cared for each other’s swollen knees and gave the sick the best shelter to sleep in. I was even eating raw foods just like the Gorillas. This group of strangers had transformed into a family, sharing and caring and ready to protect one another from dangerous sand flies. The only real difference was that a few of us used fire to cook, that we wore bright neon clothes and that I had the satellite telephone in my pocket and that we could choose to pray. For the rest there really weren’t many differences to be seen. Maybe there were a group of monkey scientists studying us through the bushes………….. ……………. …………….