January 5th 2017
Hamilton – Possible Camping
Total distance: 514 miles
We had a checkout time of 10am so we didn’t bother with alarms as we had no intention of getting up early. We lounged around in bed for a bit putting off getting up until the last minute. I could lie here all day. I said to Julia the other day that I would just like to lie down for a whole day, I would like someone to remove my phone so it’s impossible for me to do anything, and I would like my brain to switch off completely, I don’t want to think about a single thing. I seem to always have so much to do, so many messages I haven’t yet replied to, the blog to keep on top of, boring admin stuff that seems impossible to sort out from so far away, the future to think and worry about and all sorts of stupid stuff that floats around in there. Just to switch it all off for a day and lie in bed with cheesecake and soda would be heavenly.
But I can’t do that because I have to carry on walking. My desire to walk anywhere is at an all time low! Well it’s not really, it just feels like that sometimes. I don’t want to sound at all like I’m complaining because I’m absolutely loving it all but I am just so tired. The mental battle is a tough one. You do something repeatedly you usually get better and stronger right? But I feel like I’m getting weaker, I feel like my body is falling apart.
After packing everything up and eating the left over popcorn and chocolate and drinking the rest of last nights soda for breakfast we checked out at 9:58am. We realised that we hadn’t done two of the most important things, mend the holes on our shoes and fix the shoulder strap on Julia’s backpack. There is never enough time to do everything you need to do and relax in town. We head over to Pack’n’save and I struggle a lot with this resupply. I have eaten so much crap recently that I’m even going off chocolate a bit. I feel rubbish and I feel like I’ve put on weight since I’ve been here. To last me 4 days I bought 2 pizza bread things, a packet of corn chips, 2 bags of jelly snakes, some children’s fruit snacks, a bar of chocolate and some gingernuts. I would have got some shortbread but the Pack’n’save shortbread is not structurally sound and turns to crumbs. Countdown shortbread is the best, in case you were wondering.
We pack it all up and lament at the weight of our packs. It’s now past 11am and we need to get going. We decide to walk through the middle of town instead of going back down to the river and I get excited by a ‘Wiltshire Roasts’ sign only to find it’s closed down. I would so love a roast dinner. But we decided to get something to eat on the way out of town so we stopped at a cafe and I had a falafel burger. Not the best falafel I’ve ever had but ok. Falafels are so hit and miss. Waitrose spinach falafels are the best I’ve had so far, in case you’re wondering. We did some planning and found we only have to do 11 miles a day to get to the river section.
Now it’s after 12 and we have only hiked about a mile. We finally make our way out of town and the trail follows a nice pathway and a few roads for a while. A couple pull over and ask us if we want a ride. No thank you nice couple. We stop to use a toilet as a petrol station and I get a soda for the road. We are starting to get back into the country now. We have heard that once we leave Hamilton we will have left half of the country’s population behind us.
Through the rolling hills we come across an arboretum and the trail goes right through it. It’s a beautiful area with all sorts of trees from all over the world which have been cultivated since the 70s. We see a little patch of Californian redwoods and stop there a minute. There were lots of tourists about which was unsurprising because it was such a nice area.
The trail then takes us through some farmland with so many stiles. We see a field of deer, the first deer we have seen in New Zealand. They all run away and watch us from afar with the exception of one who came to the fence and let us stroke it and in return we let it lick our heads. It was so cool to get so close to a deer like that. After many more stiles, fields of cows, some angry looking bulls and climbing over gates we were back on the road and heading to a petrol station.
We got double scoop ice creams. It was a really busy little petrol station and the lady was on her own. She was three months pregnant and the smell of ice cream was making her feel sick which was really unfortunate. It took her ages to scoop my ice cream and quite a queue had gathered. A lady asked me a question about my hike and I suddenly seemed to have the attention of the whole queue which was weird. We reluctantly moved on after sitting outside in the sun for half an hour.
The trail leaves the road and goes around by the river for about a mile and then rejoins the road. This is the most stupid bit of trail and I wish we had just stayed on the road. First it goes behind a load of houses and the bushes are so overgrown that you are squeezing between them and a fence, then the high grasses are full of thorny plants and thistles which scratch and sting you. The trail then passes through a wooded area with no signs so we missed the turn and had to backtrack a bit. We came to a gate that you couldn’t get through and an electric fence to the side you had to climb over. It looked to me like the electric part had been disabled so I touched it and got an electric shock. My third one so far!
After we got around that we came to a field of cows which all gathered around us, then followed us down the field. They walked along with us and some of them got very close. They liked Julia a lot, we think she was saltier than I was. They were trying to lick her and eat the hat off her backpack. We chatted with the cows for a while as they got braver and came closer. They were quite hilarious and the encounter almost made up for the terrible trail to get there. The trail continued being a bit more ridiculous, with stile after stile and one of them covered in a spikey bush. We made it back to the road over an hour after we left it with 5 more miles to go at 6pm.
The rest of the trail was a road walk which turned into a dirt road before the last 0.8 of a mile which was through farmland. We managed to make up some time on the road, before the dirt road began to climb up which was an easier climb than through a field. We climbed over a gate to continue the trail to a possible camping spot. The fields were full of sheep and as we got higher we could see all the way back over to where we had come from today.
We got to the camping spot which didn’t much look like a camping spot. It looked like a farmers field and it was occupied with sheep. It was now ten to eight so we weren’t going to go any further and we camped there with the hope the sheep will leave us alone tonight. It was super windy and pitching the tents was difficult, it was also getting a bit cold so I was glad when I have finally pitched it and I could jump inside and into my sleeping bag. The tent is blowing about all over the place so it might be an Aleve PM kinda night.
The pizza bread was a good choice and the corn chips are nice and a bit different. The gingernuts are definitely more structurally sound than the shortbread, I hope they don’t break my teeth. As I put my sleep clothes on I noticed a bit of a hang nail and had a look, which turned into a foot inspection. I have learnt this lesson so many times – do not pick the skin, you will always take it too far and it will bleed and be sore. So I stayed picking at some skin which was coming off on the top of my toes. As I was doing it I was telling myself to stop. Don’t do it. It will go too far and then it will hurt. And then it went too far. It bled. It hurts.
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.