Te Araroa day 59 – it’s all about the floatalita

January 30th 2017
Jerusalem – Hipango
33 miles 
Total distance: 911.3 miles

I had a great nights sleep in the convent, it’s so nice to get up and have a wee first thing instead of doing it the last thing after everything is all packed up. And that’s because I don’t like to get out of my tent and get back in it. Once I’m out, I’m out. But being inside meant that wasn’t a problem. We had breakfast in the dining room, and a very nice lady who was also staying there offered to load up her car with as many barrels as she could and drive them down the road for up so we didn’t have to carry them which was so helpful. 


We still had to carry them down the hill to the river, and we formed another chain to get all of our gear down into the canoes. It was a great team building exercise and we executed it perfectly. We planned to leave at 8 but of course we didn’t leave until 9am which is typical for us. And of course my knots held and all the canoes were still there! 


It was cloudy in the morning which was good for all the sun burn people have going on, but it wasn’t cold. We had a lot of distance to cover today so we did a lot of paddling first thing. We had a couple of major rapids within the first 10 minutes, the first one was really fun. It could have ended in disaster but we just got swamped by an enormous wave so had to do a little bailing, but no tipping. We did spend quite a lot of time going backwards out of the rapids today. Belinda has a mind of her own most of the time. 


We joined up into a flotilla when we became tired and hungry and snacked on the canoes. We had another major rapid come up and we stuck together as a group and crushed it. It could have been a total disaster if everyone decided to abandon and the last minute but the faith was maintained. 

We needed to do some more paddling so we all broke off for a while, Julia and I joined forces with Marjory and Erin so first Julia could have a wee and then I could have a wee. This was the first time I had jumped off the canoe, which wasn’t difficult, but I was concerned about getting back in and whether I had enough arm muscles to haul myself in, but it was quite easy in the end. We formed a little paddling floatilini / floatilita for a while with them thinking it would get us there faster but it’s actually really hard work. Other people thought we had formed another flotilla and stared to join us so we all reconnected again. We tried to maintain a paddling floatilla but it was hard! 


Mike and Heather were nowhere to be seen which was odd as they love the flotilla, but then the came paddling by and didn’t stop. What?! Then they gave us a great performance using their paddles and hitting the side of the boat and the water which was brilliant! 

We stopped at a campground where a few people went to use the toilet but we decided that we would eat lunch as a group on the water so we could still cover some ground. We still had 15 miles to do when 3pm rolled around and at the pace we had been going meant we wouldn’t get to camp until around 9pm. Everyone broke off and decided to reconvene for a floatilla a bit later on. 

For the last 15 miles we were tied to Mike and Heather the whole way. Some people were worried about their tents still being wet from a couple of nights ago and they wanted to get there early, but the 4 of us decided we would rather hang out on the river than in the grass with all the bugs. We did a lot of faffing about and we quickly lost sight of everyone else. At one point we all had to wee so we pulled over and then played a game of Chicken, Rooster, Turkey, Duck (you take it in turns to name as many birds as you can, once you can’t think of any more that person yells DUCK and everyone has to jump in). 


We played some silly games and we had a great sing along to Alanis Morrisette. Well, Mike and I did a lot of very loud singing! I think that was one of the highlights of the day. We were paddling so hard, but as we were tied together we we could only paddle on one side so we decided rather than untie and switch we would just switch canoes. It was nice to paddle on the other side for a bit but it was even nicer to be in a good canoe! Emily is so much better than Belinda! She is higher in the water, not as wide and the seats are more secure. It felt good after being in Belinda so long. But Belinda only responds to praise so well done Belinda, you’ve still done a great job. 

We caught up to the group very late for the allotted floatilla time and the outside canoes were paddling, so we ended up being on the outside and not benefitting at all from the group! We did a bit of canoe swapping, and we did a mini rapid as a group which was fun but it was really difficult to maintain the 5 canoe floatilla against the wind. 

The wind was ridiculous. It was a head wind so it was blowing straight towards us and it felt like we weren’t going anywhere at all. We broke up again and we continued on as a flottilita of 4, we had a few breaks where we just floated to rest our very tired arms and hands. Emily had a very sharp boyancy compartment and I sliced my finger open on it which was unpleasant. We laughed pretty much the whole way, and it was so hard to paddle when you are laughing so much! I don’t feel particularly strong, but whichever side I was on we would turn the opposite. 

We saw a whole bunch of wildlife today, goats, sheep, cows, horses, geese, and these really cool little birds that were flying really low to the water and skimming the top. There were some beautiful reflections on the water of the mountains but I didn’t get very many pictures today because I had to paddle so much. 

We lost sight of everyone else again and assumed we would just get there really late so just after 7pm we were surprised to see people and canoes! They were still unloading which probably meant 2 things. They hadn’t been there that long and the campground was far away. Both things were true, and some of the others helped us tie up our canoes and take our stuff up the hill. 


The campground was really nice, and hardly any bugs. We ate dinner and then spent a while staring at the stars which were incredible. They were so bright and you could see the Milky Way. I saw 5 shooting starts which was another highlight. 

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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. 

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