Up a hill down a beer

Up at 8am and off for a walk around the lake then back to town to walk up the path beneath a gondola. Towards the top of the hill the path split in two so I chose the path that had some long walks and aimed for Ben Lomond (1700m) a three hour round trip. Or so I wrongly assumed, it was three hours to the top then the same path back down. The scenery and views over Lake Wakatipu (pronounced Wackaty-poo) were stunning as is pretty much everywhere in New Zealand so far.

The path was quite steep in places so I looked for a stick and found a suitable looking chap covered in mouldy bark. I peeled off the bark at the end I would be using as a handle and it revealed a lovely piece of sturdy pine. After a couple of hours of walking up hill I realised how good my stick was and I named him Herman, something I realised was probably the first mistake on the way to madness that Tom Hanks had made in Castaway.

I pretended I was Frodo Baggins and when I looked down at my trainers I saw big hairy hobbit feet instead. When there were no other walkers around I twirled Herman around and fought off the fighting Uruk-hai and orcs who were running down the hill to stop me.

There were quite a few moments along the walk that turned my legs to jelly with near vertical drops to the side of a tiny path but I persevered and was rewarded at the top by a cloudless 360 degree view over the lake and town to the west and the southern alps and remarkables mountain ranges to the east. At the top there were 4 people and I chatted to a lovely Australian couple. The woman complemented my stick and I thanked her. Herman looked smug. On the way back down when the path was wide enough I broke in to a run and it took half as long as going up. At the top of the gondola hill I stopped for a drink and was joined again by the Australian couple .
'Are you going to keep your stick?' the woman asked.
'I might do' I lied, I'd already told Herman we'd go on another adventure tomorrow.
'You should it's a good stick, you looked like Frodo baggins running don the hill with your hood up on your jacket'. Both Herman and I looked pleased.

Back in the town and through the hostel lobby I felt a little self conscious carrying a stick but I was high on my days achievement and ready for a celebratory beverage. In my dorm room a well spoken young lad named Will said with a sense of awe 'Did you find that stick?' Before I could answer another lad said 'What the fuck else did he do, grow it?'
'No it's just you can buy sticks like that they cost loads'
If Herman had a head it was getting a bit too big now so I brought him back down to earth 'Yeah I found it, there's hundreds like him lying in the forest quite easy really'. Everyone agreed that Herman was a good stick and I nearly got carried away stopping short of introducing him as Herman.

In the evening I went on a crap pub crawl that I left after a few crap free drinks and went in search of people I recognised and found Shauna, Pete and Tyler in World bar where they serve cocktails in teapots. I also got chatting to the German girl I had been round puzzling world with and ended up sat outside by the lake looking at the stars.
'It's incredible how many stars we can see' I said.
'I want to be up there' she replied
'What do you mean, you want to be an astronaut?'
'I want to be dead'
'Oh thanks, am I that bad company' I blurted out before the magnitude of what she'd just said had hit me. Thankfully she ignored my horrible comment and continued 'It would be so peaceful and perfect'. We chatted for a little longer and she explained that she suffered from depression which I found hard to comprehend especially in a place as beautiful as New Zealand but from the little I do understand it is an illness and it doesn't matter what anyone says or does it is only the sufferer who knows what it feels like. We chatted for a while longer until it got too cold to be outside in shorts and we said our goodnights.

It sounds strange but I was glad to know a bit more about the German girl as opposed to the generic where are you from and how long are you travelling for conversations that have made up the majority of my interactions while travelling. I hope she recovers but I guess I'll never know.