December 8th 2016
Stream – Makene road
Total distance: 96.3 miles
Well it rained pretty much all night, and it was still raining when we woke up. With three boys in close proximity it was worried about the snoring potential last night but I was so tired I went to sleep and didn’t hear a thing until my alarm woke me, which had been going off for 2 minutes before I woke up. Oops.
The first 5 or so miles were as pleasant as they can be in the rain, but it was light rain and we were walking along a dirt road which was easy walking, especially after yesterday (but little did we know what was coming up!). We played silly games to pass the time. After filling up with water from the last stream, I got 2 litres, we then left the dirt road and headed into the Ratea Forest. We leapfrogged for a lot of the morning with the American man, Alex. We can’t refer to him as Alex as it’s too confusing so we now refer to him as GA (Grumpy American). I’m sure he’s a really nice guy, he just doesn’t seem that interested in us finding out.
The forest started out ok but quickly descended into a disaster! Last nights rain had significantly increased the mud and puddles on the trail. We started out carefully avoiding the mud. We weren’t worried about getting our feet wet, they were already soaking from the rain and the first step of the morning into long wet grass made them wet. We tried to avoid sinking into the mud, but eventually it just wasn’t possible and we walked straight through the muddy puddles.
There are so many things that make travelling through this forest pretty treacherous. The mud, you never know how deep it is or what’s underneath it. The vines, they will trip you up or garrotte you without warning. The tree roots, you either slip on them or trip over them. The ferns, they smack you in the face at every opportunity. The fallen trees, difficult to get over when dry, very difficult to get over when wet. The mud. Did I mention the mud? So much mud.
The trail consisted of big steep ups and big steep downs. We were in jolly moods to begin with, laughing at each other slipping and sliding and falling in the mud. As the day wore on, we remained upbeat but we were getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of ground we were covering. We had been walking for 5 hours and had only covered 3 miles. It rained pretty much all day, it was so wet there was nowhere to stop and have a break, so we just continued walking all day without stopping. I had some biscuits and some jelly sweets in my snack pocket and that’s all I ate because I wasn’t going to stop and open my bag.
It was really really tough going. It was steep which made it difficult anyway, but throw the mud and the rain in there and it was ridiculous. We aimed for a 20 mile day but we had to scale that back because of our slow pace. My KT tape did not survive being wet for that long and it came off. We are all having leg pain issues so we were all moving slowly and sticking together.
We all took a fall at some point in the day and we are all pretty muddy. The mud just got worse and worse throughout the day and it’s pretty much everywhere. Our hands are like prunes and I dread to think about the state of my feet.
Robert and Magnus passed us but there was no sign of GA for the rest of the day. His pack is huge and it wouldn’t have fitted through some of the tiny gaps we had to squeeze through. We got a bit lost at one point and we found ourself going back up the trail we had just come down. We definitely didn’t want to do that! Thankfully we didn’t go too far out of our way and we found the trail again. There are orange triangles and orange tape tied to tree and then we saw orange lolly sticks. It gets a bit confusing.
We were sore, tired and hungry. Not a great combination for anyone. But we kept our spirits high and ploughed on through. I was soaking wet and completely done in. We finally made it out of the forest at around 7pm, after 12.5 hours solid waking. We walked across farmland, avoiding the cow pats and looking at a different view, even if it was very misty still. We have to walk through a farm to get out to the road. Lots of angry looking barking dogs that were pretty scary, but luckily the owner was about and he waved us on through as he shouted at the dogs to be quiet.
We found a flat space on the edge of a dirt road to set up our tents at about 7:45. They were still wet form this morning. I finally got the chance to sit down and eat something. First I got out of all my wet stuff and tried to remove some of the mud off my feet and legs. I ate my avocado and flatbreads and the rest of my shortbread and crisps. I have nothing for tomorrow though. Oh well! I changed into my sleep clothes and got warm and dry.
My waterproof actually did quite a good job of protecting me. My elbows to my shoulders and my shoulders to my belly button was dry, but I think the bottom of my top sucked water up from my shorts and the rain trickled down my sleeves whenever I reached up to haul myself up the muddy slopes.
My legs are in so much pain. They are pulsing like they’ve never pulsed before. My shoulders and hands hurt from stabilising myself and gripping the poles so tightly. I drank half a litre of water the whole day. I feel dehydrated. It’s just after 10pm and I can’t keep my eyes open any longer to write any more.
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.