January 28th 2017
Ohauora – Tieke
Total distance: 858.5 miles
My sleep was much better than the previous night. I wasn’t on a slope and I didn’t hurt as much. We aimed for an 8am start again, we wouldn’t have been able to sleep in had we wanted to because there were so many kids. A few people were kept awake all night by the possums screeching, I heard one little screech and then nothing so I was lucky.
Back in the canoes we paddled as a small group for a little while, which was really nice because we are normally so far behind everyone else, and formed a flotilla for a bit with Erin & Marjory and Sarah & Creya. We saw a little rocky area and decided to pull up and take a break a couple of hours into the day. It ended up being a lunch stop and we stayed there for a little bit before moving on.
We caught up to the other group who passed us when we were stopped and joined in with their flotilla. It was fun to hang out with them for a while, a few people went for a swim and we negotiated a few rapids successfully as a giant raft. We floated for a while, the sun was so intense. I covered up by loosening my shorts again and tried to keep my arms and hands out of the sun. I had plenty of suncream on but it still felt like it was burning.
We had an unsuccessful rapid negotiation, no canoes flipped but a couple slammed into some rocks and one of the kayaks rolled. Everyone was fine but it was time to break up the giant flotilla. I had become a bit bored, the float is a nice reward after a hard paddle and as we hadn’t really done any hard paddling yet it wasn’t fun anymore. It seemed that most of our group felt the same way, preferring to leave the raft and go back to our own little group.
I felt much better today, my body is adapting to paddling really quickly. My arms aren’t sore anymore, my back still aches a bit but nothing like it was on the first day, my hands are the only things that are really sore. I have blisters on them and they feel really bruised. Towards the end of the day I feel like I have a claw hand.
After a couple more hours of paddling we reached Mangapurua landing, which is where we moored our canoes and walked for about half an hour to reach the Bridge to Nowhere. It took us longer than we expected to get there because of all the floating, but it all worked out for the best in the end because the big group with all the children were just leaving. Space is tight around the landing and the bank is steep and slippy. It was a nice easy walk to the bridge. Back in the 1920s, after WWI, some people tried to settle there and build a community, but the bush fought back and they couldn’t manage it so they left, and this bridge is all that remains. It goes from somewhere to nowhere.
Back in our canoes we were the second last to leave meaning we were really far behind everyone else. Dave and Kristen soon passed us which meant we were last. We paddled for a while but didn’t catch up. Worried we were going to miss out on flotilla time, we decided to put in a hurculean effort into catching them up. We paddled so hard and so fast and we were totally spent by the time we caught up to Mike and Heather. We joined forces with them and Sarah & Creya to float into camp. It was such a nice relaxing end to the day. The sun has lost its fierceness and was now quite pleasant, we had some shade and the rapids were gentle. We were alert enough to avoid the few obstacles in the river but otherwise we had a nice time lounging and having random chats about random stuff.
We pulled up to our camp spot, which was a Maori morae (meeting place). The let people camp there and we had read all sorts of stuff about a traditional greeting and a ceremony, but we didn’t get anything like that. Just a woman with a clipboard loosely checking out names. We had dinner together around the picnic tables until it got too dark to see.
The midges were ferocious tonight. I have counted 19 bites on one side of one foot and then I gave up counting. They are so itchy! And they get itchier when my feet get hot, like when they are in a sleeping bag. We were in our tents by 9:30 and the camp fell silent quickly.
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.