January 9th 2017
Waitomo – Campsite
Total distance: 573.4 miles
Oh man I was so uncomfortable last night. The bed was just a disaster! Plus, the boy who was in the top bunk next to mine rolled into the room at 4:30am, and I didn’t need my alarm because a loud fart woke me up, followed by a repulsive stench, followed by me rolling over to see a foot way too close to my face. It was 6:20 and I couldn’t stand it anymore, I had to get out of there!
We packed up and, along with Erin, made our way back down the road to Waitomo to meet back up with the trail and get breakfast. We still had 9 miles to get to Te Kuti and I had absolutely no food. We got breakfast at the general store which we thought opened at 7:30 but opened at 8. After a vege eggs benedict panini I was good to go.
I felt really terrible this morning. I felt like I had a cold. My ears were blocked and crackling when I ate, I had a cough with a rattle to it and a runny nose. I really don’t want to get ill, and I especially don’t want to get ill but because I stayed in a hostel with all those gross people and if it’s come from one of those bloody kids I won’t be impressed.
The first few miles were over farm land. Through tall wet grass, fields of fornicating / fighting cows, in and out of bits of forest and over endless stiles. It was really slow going because the fields are so uneven they are difficult to walk on, and there are massive thistles everywhere which really hurt so we spend a lot of time trying to avoid them. We went the wrong way once and our rain coats were on and off as it was drizzly and humid at the same time. Breathing was hard today.
I may have explained this before but on the PCT last year Julia and I would talk about elevation (going up) and deleveation (going down). Makes perfect sense. We have had to progress that slightly on this trail because it’s so steep in places, so not on does the trail go up and down it goes vertically (up), so therefore it goes dertically (down). Vertical and dertical. With me so far? Well, today we had to introduce another type of path. A path that isn’t really suitable for humans at all and only suitable for a goat. Goaticle.
After slowly slogging our way through the fields, and being rained on, we decided to walk the rest of the way to Te Kuti on the road that parallels the trail. We had done our dues in the farmland today.
The road was busy with big farm vehicles and transportation lorries but there was a bit of a shoulder to walk on which was nice. A man pulled over and spoke to us about the canoe trip down the Whanganui river. We have already booked our trip with Blazing Paddles, but we listened to the man and thanked him anyway, without telling him we were already booked.
We arrived in town and headed straight for a cafe to get some food and soda! Fish bites and curly fries nailed, we went to New World to do our resupply. Erin was already carrying enough food so it was just Julia and I stocking up. Croissants, wraps, cheese, ginger nuts, shortbread, chocolate, sweets, one packet of tuna, fruit bars, crisps, chocolate milk for now and an apple turnover for dinner tonight. It might be enough it might not.
We loaded our packs, were very displeased with the weight until we felt how much Erin’s pack weighed and then we felt a bit better about our own. I don’t know how Erin does it, her pack is seriously heavy yet she cruises over every stile and I make a big fuss about every one! We walk down to the DOC office to find out what our options are to include the northern circuit of Tongariro as an extra side trip when we do the Tongariro crossing. After much confusion we sketched out a couple of options and carried on.
I drank my 750ml of chocolate milk and I didn’t learn my lesson from last time that 750ml of rich Belgian chocolate milk is too much! I felt quite ill after (although my cold type illness seems to have cleared up a bit thankfully). After a quick visit to the public toilet and a nice chat with the ladies in the information centre we were finally on our way at 5pm. A good 4 hours spent in town.
We still had 6.5 miles to go until camp. On our way out of town, which is the ‘shearing capital of the world’ we saw a giant statue of a sheep shearer wearing an all blacks top. The weather had taken a turn and was now absolutely boiling. The trail follows the Mangaokewa stream and is very pleasant for the first half, through some nice smooth forest tracks, then things get a bit more challenging. The trail is badly eroded in some places, muddy, wet, steep, slippy…suitable for nimble goats, which we saw a couple of above the trail.
The closer we got to camp the more treacherous the trail became, with thistles and patches of gorse to avoid. The gorse make me a little bit itchy but Julia has quite a reaction to it. Just when I thought it was getting ridiculous the trail smoothed out into a nice forest and then we were at the camp site. A cool camp spot with a table and chairs, some rubber rings which would have been fun to use in the river had it been nice weather and earlier in the day, and a shovel to dig a poo hole.
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.