Etna was 20 miles away this morning, now it’s zero and I’m in my new tent. It’s UL (ultra light), a green Nemo Hornet – its compact, spacey at the front and not long enough for Ollie to fit in. His head and toes touch each end. Sleep overs will happen in his tent. Etna is pretty, in the ride down in the tray of a trail angels ute I looked out into green pines and felt a new fondness for the forest. I miss the Aussie bush keenly, comparing it to this new and foreign land like one might a lover. The forest thinned and pastures with lovely, fat, shiny horses flanked the roadside. Fields with freshly cut hay bales and large, American style barns are spaced out between lovely weatherboard houses surrounded by big gardens. The small town has some lovely brick architecture and reminds Ollie of an English village. It is the most picturesque town we have visited so far.
The hike to the highway went quickly and slowly. By lunch we had done 16 miles, which included a stop for breakfast. Near a stream crossing we dumped our packs under a tree and chatted to some guys doing trail maintenance. One guy was an empath and shaman healer. He began crying when he looked at my feet, and when he was leaving said to me “if you feel rubbing on the balls of your feet later, that’s me. I’ll wait for a quiet and calm atime, probably after dark”. It’s not quite dark yet so I’m hoping the rubs to come.