January 29th 2017
Tieke – Jerusalem
Total distance: 878.3 miles
We started the day much like the others, everything was soaking wet and we were being bitten relentlessly by midges. We packed up and we were ready for 8am. Julia and I may not be very good at the canoeing but we are very punctual.
We paddled for a bit, Belinda was actually doing pretty well, and we were paddling well too, maintaining a lead which we normally don’t keep for more than 5 minutes. We passed through a few gentle rapids with no problems before forming a flotilla and drifting for a while. We had a big rapid to do before getting to the next campsite where we planned to stop for a break. It was the most intimidating rapid of the river so far and we were completely swamped by a wave, but Belinda managed not to capsize so that was good. We all made it through successfully and pulled up onto the shingle bank. We bailed all the water out and then stopped for a bite to eat.
We watched the families with the children come through the rapid and they took the other side, we took the left and they took the right. They were all floating through without any problems until a jet boat came by, not only did he not slow down he swerved in the middle of the river kicking out bigger waves, so a couple of their canoes flipped.
We continued on and basically floated to the next spot we wanted to stop at, a couple of caves. The first one was a very dark mud cave and the second one was a scramble over the rocks to get to a cave with a waterfall and a swimming hole in. Most of us went for a swim despite it being super cold, and a few of the boys jumped off the side of the cave.
It wasn’t either super hot or super cold today, it was off and on, hot and cold, we paddled for a bit and then joined up again to form a super flotilla with all of us. The flotilla sometimes fails when we stop concentrating on the river and we end up slamming into a wall of a rock. Both of which happened today. The flotilla also fails when people lose faith in the power of the flotilla and split at the last minute going into a rapid which happened a couple of times today.
We (Mike and Heather) picked up three shoes after our flotilla broke up and we all made it down the rapid. They belonged to the group with the children and as we floated along they caught us up and were super happy to be reunited with their shoes. We paddled and floated our way down the river and through the rapids which Belinda handled like a champ. We arrived at Pipiriki, which is where we would say goodbye to Gareth. It’s where a lot of people end their river journeys and the end of the Great Walk part of the river. We climbed up the bank and headed to The Wanganui River Adventures HQ where they sold a few bits of food and drinks. People were going mad for frozen pies and pizzas which they could heat up in the microwave, which I thought was a bit odd as we had loads of food left after being able to bring whatever we wanted. I had an ice lolly which was nice.
We parted ways with Gareth and headed back out on the river for our final section of the day. We formed another flotilla but the faith was lost again when we approached a rapid rather quickly and everyone abandoned ship. Three of us hung on to each other as there wasn’t really enough time to react individually so we thought there would be strength in numbers. Julia and I ended up being stuck on a rock with no way off it. Mike & Heather and Sara & Creya were hanging on to us and didn’t let go as they tried to pull us off it, our only option was to hump off the rock, so we shifted backwards and forwards until we finally became dislodged and we were safe again! A bit of drama for the afternoon!
The three canoes maintained their flotilita until the end of the day. Even when we realised we weren’t moving very fast and should paddle a bit we maintained our raft and the outside canoes paddled. Something bit me on my lip and it swelled up and went completely numb. Unpleasant. As we approached Jerusalem we even docked as a raft. A very pleasant and successful afternoon!
Our stop for the night was a convent, there was a steep muddy bank and not a lot to tie the canoes to. I found a tree and tied one canoe to it, and all the other canoes are tied off that one. There is a lot of pressure onmy knot tying abilities and all the others seem to have more faith in them than I do! I hope all the canoes are still there in the morning! We formed a chain and got all the gear out of the canoes by passing it up the chain, it worked really well. We still had quite a bit further to carry it. One of the neighbours offered us to camp in their garden for a donation and it was tempting because the convent was up another hill, but there weren’t really any facilities there.
So a few people decided to camp there but 9 of us went to the convent, and I’m so glad I went. It was a bit like walking back into my primary school. It had the same feel. And the dorm room upstairs was really cool. It was fun to see how the nuns would have lived, there are still nuns here but I’m not sure it’s a working convent anymore. Lots of people stay there and there were other people there tonight.
We were able to have hot showers and use an indoor flushing toilet for the first time in a while. It had been so muddy out so it was nice to wash, even if it was more of a rinse than a wash, but there was soap. We all sat in the kitchen and had a communal dinner. I ate my tuna wrap and Sara shared her couscous and feta cheese with me so I had a second dinner which was nice. It was 10pm and we were still eating but it was nice to sit around and have a chat.
It’s very late. I’m very tired. We have a big day ahead.
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.