January 7th 2017
Pahautea hut – possible camping
Total distance: 541 miles
We set no alarm this morning, we were just going to see what happened. Erin, who had a nightmare yesterday and broke one of her hiking poles – which she uses to pitch her tent – had planned to hike out at 6. She was going to backtrack and get back to Hamilton to buy a new one. Her alarm went off and it woke me suddenly, I sat bolt upright, realised where I was, led back down and went to sleep again, all of which happened within about 2 seconds.
When we did wake up around 7am we saw Erin was still in the hut and the weather was gross. We were in the cloud and the wind would bring rain with it every time it blew. I had no desire at all to get out of my sleeping bag, it was cold inside the hut, I could see my breath in the air. Normally the need to wee would get you moving but I had barely drunk anything so I didn’t need to go.
Eventually we had to get up. We unfortunately couldn’t live here because we would run out of food far too quickly. We remembered that the mountains looked like they were in the cloud all morning yesterday and just a few hundred feet down it will probably be nice weather. We faffed about until there was nothing left to faff over. We said goodbye to Erin and Vicky and headed out into the mist at about 8:30am. It was probably warmer outside than in the hut!
We set off on our merry way, walked down a nice walkway and then straight into the mud. Really boggy deep mud. I was trying to avoid it as much as possible, not so I didn’t get muddy, so I didn’t lose a shoe in the knee deep mud! After about half an hour we were expecting to have reached the Hikiwiki summit (ok, so the real name is Hihikiwi, but I first read it as Hikiwiki and that is how it shall be know from now on!) but there was no sign of a summit. Julia checked the gps and we were on the wrong bloody trail!!! We were heading back down the Bell track which would have taken us back to where we started yesterday. We had to turn back and go back to the hut, we did an hour of exhausting trudging through the mud to just get back to where we started.
We get onto the correct trail and follow a nice boardwalk up to the Hikiwiki summit. Some of the walkway is high up on stilts, not good if you don’t like heights! We climbed the many many steps to reach the summit but as we were still in a cloud we didn’t get much of a view. We didn’t hang around as it was wet and windy so we made our way down, which involved 2 giant uphills in the process. We were straight into the mud and it was just everywhere. Unavoidable so we mostly went straight through it, but like I said before we were trying to be careful not to lose our shoes. We both took small falls and landed on our bums, we also both hit various bones on tree roots and branches, our shins took quite a beating. Whacking your shin hurts so much, so does hitting your ankle bone which I did a couple of times. I managed to sink into the mud only up to my ankles, but I still managed to have it all over my legs and julia went in up to her knees. I can’t describe just how exhausting going through the mud is (and we have heard there is more to come). It takes every ounce of energy just to stay upright, and there are so many slips and slides and near falls I am surprised we managed to get through these forests without breaking anything.
We were totally exhausted and not just our legs and feet hurt, our arms, shoulders and heads hurt from swinging from trees and gripping our poles so tightly. We saw a few people heading up the mountain who weren’t nearly as muddy as we were! We emerged from the forest after travelling 3.3 miles in 3.5 hours, plus an extra hour side trip down the Bell track. I couldn’t have been more pleased to get out the forest. I really enjoyed it, the forest was beautiful and the moss covering the trees was cool but there comes a time when you can have too much mud in your life and it was that time.
There was a stream at the bottom of the track and we washed our shoes and socks, I then used a sock to wash myself. As I was washing myself in a stream with my sock I had one of those ‘what am I doing?!’ moments. All the little cuts and bumps sting as they are washed but it feels so nice to get the mud off. We stopped to rest, have lunch and dry out a bit in the sun. It was 1:30pm
And we had only travelled 3.3 miles! We were reluctant to put on our wet shoes and socks but we had to eventually and started hiking again at 2:15ish. We had a nice gravel road to walk down, which required no concentration and you didn’t have to look down at your feet once, it was great! I’m glad we didn’t go straight into farmland otherwise I would have had a complete sense of humour failure.
The weather brightened, the sun was out and the wind was blowing. Perfect shoe drying weather. We had an easy 11 mile walk to get to our camp spot, the dirt rod changed into a highway, back to a dirt road and finally to a forest (grassy) road. On the way we had some great views over the farms and hills, we could even see the sea again as we looked out over the west coast. We saw a bull eating grass with everything hanging out – that was too much! We stopped by a stream and scrambled down the bank to collect some water, there were a bunch of fish skeletons in there but we collected water upstream from them so hopefully there is nothing gross further up.
We find the forest road and we pass a tent which we think could be Robin the German guy, then we find a spot sheltered from the wind to pitch our tents. We are camped just off the road a bit on a grassy-could-be-road area. We are just hoping nothing wants to get through between now and the morning.
I pitch my tent as fast as I can and I’m inside by 7pm. I’ve got little desire to do anything about setting up the inside so I eat the last of my pizza bread and my crisps until my legs are too sore to be sitting and I need to be lying down. I’m in my sleeping bag by 7:30pm and it feels so good to be horizontal.
Julia shouts over ‘how are you feeling?’ ‘I feel totally fine’ I reply, ‘apart from the hip down, that’s really sore.’
We don’t bother with an alarm. We will just see what happens in the morning.
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.