January 10th 2017
Campsite – Ngaherenga campsite
Total distance: 602.1 miles
I woke up around 4am and it was so incredibly dark it was like I still had my eyes shut. It rained in the night and was still raining in the morning, although we were under trees so it sounded a lot worse than it was. I was very reluctant to get out of my tent but we had a big day ahead of us and we wanted to have left by 6:30am.
First we needed to complete the river track which was only 5 miles long but ended up taking us 4 hours! Everything was soaking wet because of the rain (and I suppose the trail could have been a bit easier had everything not been wet), we were waterproofed up and the steep climbs through the forest made us wetter inside than we were outside so the waterproofs came off. The tall grasses, some of which were over my head made our shoes and shorts soaking in an instant. I’m not normally one to complain about the state of the trail and bang on about trail maintenance, but this was just ridiculous! It wasn’t a trail at all for the most part, people ahead of us had just flattened down some of the tall grass on the sides of the river bank. When the trail went down by the river it was muddy bog, but our shoes were soaked already so we just ploughed on through. The fields were covered in thistles which stung our legs and hands because some of them were so tall. We also had thorny vines to contend with which have left me with scrapes all over my legs, really unpleasant to walk through all the stuff that hurts you.
The path, such as it was, was so narrow and you were faced with a steep drop to the left where one slip would see you plummet through the scratchy bush to the river below, and to avoid falling you had to lean into the scratchy bush on the right. There were lots of slips and near misses but we all made it through without dying. Progress was so slow. We passed through a field of cows which were all calling to each other and I don’t think they were too happy we were in their field. They seemed to have young ones to protect. After we got through the cows and the steep river banks and the thorns, thistles and gorse, we started walking on a farm road which provided some relief. We washed our shoes in a stream and walked through some more farmland. These cows were man cows and they started walking towards us, a quick movement and a shoo got most of them running away, some of them did that jumpy cow thing where they become quite scary and unpredictable, and one – the one with the black and white face – started following us / chasing us which was terrifying, so I used Julia as a human shield.
I was so glad to get out of that field. We made it to the end of the river track and to the start of the road walk in 4 hours. And we still had 23 miles to go for the day. We did a little celebratory dance and stopped for a break and a snack.
We saw a couple from Texas who were heading north. I felt sorry for them that they still had to go through that terrible bit of trail and it was over for us. It was definitely type 3 fun, I didn’t enjoy it at the time and I won’t ever look back on it and think it was fun!
Now for the 23 mile read walk which wasn’t particularly fun either but at least progress was made more quickly. The first half was dirt roads, and although it was a boring road walk the views were amazing. It really felt like I was in hobbit land today. Plus lots of rolling hills and fields of sheep and cows. We did the first few miles with the intention of making it to a stream to fill up with water and take a break. I was in quite a lot of pain when I got there, I needed to take off my shoes and air out my wet feet and my knees were sore. The tape had half come off my legs because of all the wet grass this morning. Julia took all the water bottles and went to find a way to get down to the river but it was a big drop and the edges were covered in gorse. No water there then. I still had a tiny bit and Erin donated some of hers as she had left camp this morning with 3 litres compared to my half a litre.
We carried on along the dirt road and Julia was up ahead, as I came over the hill I could see her talking to a couple of people who looked like they had backpacks on. It turns out it was Erin and Trevor, a Canadian couple, who are part of our canoe group so it was nice to finally meet them. Julia and I hiked with Trevor for a bit and Erin and Erin walked together. We passed some farmers herding sheep and then hit the paved road. Just a mile down the paved road was a stream but it was right next to an abattoir. The water would have probably been fine but the proximity to the abattoir put us off. We sat across the road in a tiny patch of shade and took a break before our last 6 miles to the camp site. I was out of water and had only drunk half a litre today so I was feeling pretty dehydrated. Erin and Trevor had managed to get water out of the river which was surrounded by gorse and shared it with us but warned us it tasted like dirt and it did, it was so gross I didn’t drink it.
Julia and I hiked out first and I tried my hardest to keep up with her, which I managed but my legs were suffering for it. We were now on a fairly busy highway with big animal transport trucks rattling past and only a few people moving over for us. We eventually turned onto a dirt road again and by the last mile I had really had enough. My knees and feet hurt so much I desperately wanted to lie down.
Just 500 metres before the camp site (which was 500 meters off trail)!was a toilet and drinking water. Went to the loo and guzzled some nice tasting water before heading to the camp site with Erin. When we got there Kristen was there having got back on trail a couple of days ago. With Erin and Trevor that makes six of us which is cool, and there are a whole bunch of holiday makers here too.
I was desperate to lie down and desperate to eat and desperate to drink more and desperate to get out of my stinky hiking clothes and desperate to get away from the tiny biting flies that were everywhere. So I threw up my tent and barricaded myself inside. I tried to do everything all at once but eating won out in the end. I had dinner number one of tuna wrap. I haven’t been able to eat tuna since overdosing massively on it in 2015. I tried it again in 2016 unsuccessfully. But this one was lemon, sesame and ginger flavoured and something in that appealed to me to try, and I’m glad I did because it was absolutely delicious, and in the garlic butter wraps I bought too. Yum. I then had second dinner of croissants and cheese (that makes it 4 croissants I have eaten today!
I finally get to lie down and my legs are in so much pain it’s almost overwhelming all other thoughts. I pop an Aleve PM and hope that will help me sleep through the throbbing.
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.