Despite the late night, the teenagers and I were up at 6am and I was off just before 7. Getting light, but before sunrise, I began the last hard uphill slog of the trail. Just as the saddle came into view, I could see the bright golden sunlight beginning to hit the trees on top. I spotted the lookout platform sitting on the saddle and kept my eyes down on the ground on purpose as I approached it. When I stepped onto the platform and finally let myself look out onto Ship Cove, it was so beautiful and such a happy moment that I burst out laughing.
I spent a while on the platform taking in the view and the fact that I could see my endpoint, and sending off various messages and pictures to friends and family. I desperately wanted to send off a picture to the boyfriend, but I couldn’t because I was surprising him by getting back to Wellington ‘early’, in time for his birthday. He still thought I was back somewhere near the beginning of the Queen Charlotte.
I practically ran down the hill to Ship Cove to find it deserted and beautiful.
I was very early for my water taxi, so I spent some time exploring and taking the perfect finishing photo.
An earlier water taxi arrived at the jetty and I jumped on that one instead. On the way back to Picton, we had some visitors.
I thought I would have been overcome with emotion as I finished the trail, but it was nearly the opposite. It felt like any other day. I was happy to be there, and I definitely felt a sense of achievement, but it wasn’t on the big scale I thought it would have been. I think it was because I had been ready to finish for a couple of weeks, perhaps. The water taxi ride back to civilisation took almost three hours and it was a nice reflection time. I dozed a little, feeling drowsy from the huge dose of sea sickness medication I had taken in anticipation, but mostly enjoyed the cruise.
When I arrived in Picton, the first thing I did was go and order a victory salad. I then checked into a hostel and cleaned out my bag. I have a ferry booked to Wellington in the morning, and then it will be back to normal life! Very strange.