Te Araroa day 30 – mercer is not a town

January 1st 2017
Suspension bridge- Mercer 
11.2 miles
Total distance: 446.8 miles

We plan to leave at 6:30 in the hope we will actually leave at 7:30. If we plan for 7:30 we won’t end up leaving until 8:30. I didn’t sleep that well. I was on alert for cows and I could hear all sorts of rustling in the tall grasses around my tent. I was concerned about possums and rats chewing through my tent. There was definitely something out there at one point. Every time I shone my torch the noise stopped, and started again as soon as it was off. Then the tree next to me sounded like it was going to come crashing down. I was too tired to do anything about any of it and just went back to sleep. 


I lay in my tent looking at all the mosquitos that has gathered between the net and the fly, feeling all the bites on my legs itching I was reluctant get out. Hunger and the need to poo got me going eventually. Each morning is the same. The moment you hear the other one rustling you call out to find out what they are up to. Julia asked me what I was doing. I told her I had deflated my pillow and I was sat upright, that was as far as I had got. She was impressed with the sitting upright part. She was yet to open her eyes. This conversation carries on until one of us says we have nothing left to pack up and are about to get out the tent. 

We actually manage to start walking a little before 7:30 which is an achievement. We have a little bit of forest to get through before the trail crossed through some fields of cows. The TA trust must have had trouble negotiating access through this bit because we end up squeezing our way through between a fence and overgrown bush right next to a lovely open field. We have to go over about 10 stiles this morning which is just tough going, most of them are built for giants! After some shimmying along fences we join a dirt road for a while and we entertain ourselves by listening to some podcasts. The dirt road turns into real road and we walk along the highway for a short while. 


The trail then turns and follows something called a stopbank for a few miles. I guess it’s just a mound of earth that’s been created to act as a barrier for the river. It was difficult to walk along as the ground was lumpy and uneven and the grass was really tall. The grass untied my shoelaces a couple of times. Every so often there was a stile to cross and a few electric fences. One of the fences I got a shock from on my bottom. Unpleasant. One of the fences was a small bit of wire that we had to hop over, that was electric too. We came to a section where a bunch of cows were hanging out and we had to walk through all their liquidy shit. All the cows bunched at one end by the electric fence then all ran away together. I was glad to be off the stopbank despite the pretty views. 


We went under the highway and the trail paralleled the road through overgrown, almost impossible to navigate through, tall grass and plants. It was tough to walk through so we decided to just walk along the road instead which was much easier. 

There was a McDonald’s up ahead and I don’t know what’s wrong with me because I was looking forward to going there?! Cheap food in large quantities I guess. We arrived nice an early just before noon. Mercer is described as a town but really it’s more like a truck stop. A motel, a few food places and a petrol station. We went straight to McDonald’s where I got a large double cheeseburger meal which was cheaper than Julia’s large cheeseburger meal. Odd. We went large to get our maximum soda allowance. We sat in there for a while, using the wifi and catching up with home and happy New Years messages. 


We then headed over to Podgers place and the Mercer motel, they let TA hikers camp for free and take a shower. I had cow shit up the back of my leg, and I had it on my hands before I washed them in McDonald’s, so a shower was nice. We went to an Irish pub for dinner and I had a nice traditional Irish meal of nachos. On our way back to the motel we called in to the food court to get ice cream and soda for desert and hung around outside McDonald’s stealing their wifi for a while. Then we saw Marjory! We caught up with her and then showed her around the camp. Julia and I played cards while she set up her tent and we were all in bed by 9pm. 


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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. 

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