The hitch was with two awesome Ozzie girls on an adrenaline rush tour of NZ. Luckily for me they have a GPS because it’s the only thing that confirms that the Cliften town hall is actually the Cliften town hall. I get out. It’s certainly a hall, but there ain’t no town. Just a church on the other side of the road and nothing for miles but fields. This is NZ. I flick my torch on.
As I pull my bag out of the warm boot into the dark carpark it starts to rain. The Ozzies push fruit and biscuits into my grateful hands as I wave them off, which is great because I don’t have dinner, and then I scurry up a bank across the road to the welcoming shelter of some huge pine trees.
I look up. The needles are so dense that I cannot see the dim glow of the night sky through them – perfect protection from the rain. I look down. A flat, dry nest of bark and leaf litter – perfect insulation from the cold. I stamp out my bed, chuckling to myself – this is the life - pull all my kit out of my pack and make my bed, shoving biscuits and apples into my mouth to make up for missing lunch. Just need to take a piss then I’m set for the night.
As I stand on the verge I notice something strange. There’s a cut mark on the spruce bough next to me. The end seems driven into the ground. My headlamp follows the long, heavy branch back up to the trunk. Seems fine, until… oh shit! The entire limb is wind-blow, hanging on to the trunk with only an inch of bark. It’s poised right above my bed, swaying gently in the breeze. Jesus.
I tip-toe over to my bed and immediately fling everything I own as far away as possible, into the dark. As I leave the “perfect spot” I idly kick the end of the broken limb. The entire thing (must have been at least a ton) crashes onto my imprinted bed.
That night I lie awake, unable to sleep thanks to the apple, in mental loops of near misses. I laugh to myself… pride comes before a fall.