December 7th 2016
Ahipara – stream
Total distance: 79.9 miles
It was nice to be in a campsite, but it was super noisy at night with people and in the morning with the birds! So many birds twittering.
We didn’t get up until 6am. The trail goes down the road and past the shop where we need to get some resupply so we planned to be there when it opened at 7. And we were. The store was small and we knew it was going to be limited in its selection and a little pricey. The Swedish guy – Magnus, the American guy – Robert and the grumpy American guy – Alex, were also in there doing the same thing. It was difficult to buy things for two days. I ended up with another random selection of stuff, and a chocolate milk, a sausage roll and a magnum ice cream for breakfast.
We sat outside the store, ate our breakfast items and organised our food. We had a little doggy visitor who was very cute. We found out from a little girl his name was Diesel. A lorry wanted to reverse down the road next to the store so I protected Diesel. Once we had finally sorted ourselves out we were on our way and off to our first road walk. The landscape very quickly changed from 90 mile beach and we were now amongst rolling green hills and trees.
We had a few miles on a paved road with nowhere to walk on the side. It was pretty sketchy, fast cars and blind corners made it fairly treacherous, but the big logging trucks were the worst. It got really hot and we were looking forward to getting into the forest. The guys went off ahead, I guessed they would go further than us today.
I was really pleased to get off the road. Not because it was boring but because it felt pretty dangerous. There is a shoe cleaning station at the entrance and then we were right in the jungle! This is the Herekino track. It starts with a large ascent up some stairs and then it turns into a steep track. For the whole day I was really impressed with the maintenance of the track, really well marked, an obvious path and really clean. It was also incredibly beautiful. So many gorgeous plants and trees. It was pretty humid, but we now had shade from the forest and a bit of cloud cover. Even so I still sweated more than I did on the beach! We move noticeably slower through here. There are a few muddy patches but nothing that can’t be avoided. The biggest problem was all the tree roots, trying not to slip or trip on them.
We get to the top of he climb which was nowhere as bad as it looked on the elevation profile. The trail then rolled along for a bit and we had a little break next to a stream. It feels really jungly down here. The stream must get quite high as there was a wire suspended across it which we assumed helps people to cross. For us we just hopped on a rock and it was easy to get across. We climbed up to Taumatamahoe Summit. A little peak at 1830ft, but significant when you’ve come from sea level to get there. From a little viewing window just before the top we could see out over to 90 mile beach.
It was then time to begin the steep descent. And man was it steep in some places. Our pace slowed to a crawl and we negotiated the mud patches and tried to avoid the slippery tree roots and other hazards. Some bits were impossibly steep and it’s amazing we made it out without anyone falling over or breaking anything! The down was pretty relentless and it was taking its toll on our bodies. You couldn’t let your concentration lapse for just a second because that’s when you would trip and your heart would fly into your mouth, it was mentally tiring as well as being physically tiring. My hands were sore from gripping my poles so tightly and my shoulders were sore from the tension in my body I was using to try and keep myself upright and not ending up face first in the mud. And of course my legs were really fatigued, there is constant tension in your legs when you’re trying not to fall. It felt at times like it was never going to end, just when we thought the worst was over we would come to a bit that looked near vertical. We stuck together so we could help if anyone got into trouble and of course we laughed and joked our way down. No one complained, other than to let out a few expletives about how steep and slippy certain bits were. Finally we could see open grass and the end of the death trap forest.
We all loved the forest despite it completely battering us. I thought the whole thing was beautiful, and I really enjoy scrambling around things, I do feel completely broken though. We sat for a moment to recover but with 3.5 miles left and it being 6pm we needed to get going.
We moved slowly, our bodies exhausted. And Kristen was having some problems with her knee, causing her a lot of pain and I thought it looked a little inflamed. Thankfully the miles were fairly easy, gentle ups and downs along dirt roads. We passed field of cows with their calfs and a bunch of bee hives. (Other than the birds there didn’t seem to be any animals in the forest, hardly any insects even). The wild flowers / weeds looked amazing. Its also nice to see things from home. Cow parsley, hollyhocks, thistles.
The last half a mile was a real struggle. We were done in. When we arrived at the tent site we saw tents already there. Magnus and Robert were there, and Alex – who we told that was where our intended camp was – was there too. It was a bit disappointing to arrive and see they had set up with no consideration for others in the way they pitched their tents.
Kristen and I squeezed in to the same area they were in and Julia went off to camp about 100 yards away. We are camped in long grass which we had to flatten before pitching our tents, this is going to be condensation grand central station. Just as we get our tents up it start to rain, which it had been threatening to do most of the afternoon. It’s a heavy but quick shower.
I eat the remaining half of my mince and cheese pie, which was probably significantly nicer when it was hot. I finish it off with squiggles and shortbread. There are five of us camped in very close proximity and I hope the guys don’t snore. These guys aren’t the friendliest, they aren’t unfriendly but they just don’t seem to be interested in engaging in conversation. I miss Simon and Virginia!
My legs are pulsing and I need a wee but I don’t want to get out of my tent because it’s wet.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.