“If I had known how it would be, I probably wouldn’t have done it, but I’m glad I did it.” That’s what Tyler said to me from across the tub while we regained feeling in our legs. Said legs had been immersed in water for the previous hour, though its temperature hovered around 50°F instead of 100°F.
Cave Stream is an hour-long walk up a river flowing through a limestone cave. The smooth white walls form shapes like a giant wave of water splashed the edges and then paused in time forever. Narrow side passageways beckon the wet suited adventurer, but not us. From the moment the water level passed my belly button at the entrance, I wondered if it was stupid to continue (answer: Yes). Half an hour later, shivering, feet red and burning from the icy creek, the only thing that kept me moving forward was not wanting to go back through the deep pool. The relief, nay, the joy we felt at seeing the light of the exit surpassed even that of seeing one’s car at the end of a week-long backpacking trip.
For a final hurrah you need to climb metal rungs next to a waterfall and then army crawl to the exit. Both Tyler and I later admitted that we weren’t sure we trusted our legs or feet to do what our brains told them, and double tapped each rung to make sure our foot was secure before transferring weight onto it.
“How was it?” a large German guy and a peppy kiwi woman asked. We looked at them wide-eyed as if unsure as to why they would subject themselves to it.
The next scene I was laying in the bath with clothes still on, beanie tucked snugly around my head. Tyler, two peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and two cups of tea joined me a few minutes later, still in the bathtub.
Later, somehow still the same day, we mountain biked the brutal and beautiful Hog’s Back trail. Heavy clouds shrouded the tops of every mountain in sight, like smoke rings tossed in a carnival game.
Thank goodness for our friend Cath connecting us with her friends Kim and Pete, who own a great cabin in Castle Hill Village. How lovely to be able to warm up in a bath, sit near a wood stove, make bread, and sleep in a bed. We’ve never met Kim nor Pete, and the first time I ever spoke to Kim on the phone she told me how to get into her house. On the second phone call she invited us to stay with them in Christchurch. What amazingly generous people!
Tyler is stoked because he finally got to squeeze into his climbing shoes. His buddy Jake drove up from Christchurch to meet us Saturday night at the frigid Craigieburn campground, and then showed us around the phantasmagorical Flock Station boulders the next day. For the most part I occupied myself with walking around and practicing French with a cool couple we met in the parking lot. Tyler crushed, and was stoked for a reprieve from my endless hike-bike-apalooza.
So would I do it again? Maybe in the summer. Tyler told me he would have tea waiting for me in the parking lot.