February 3rd 2017
Fitzpatrick bridge – possible camping
Total distance: 952.2 miles
After writing, updating the blog and chatting to my parents before I went to sleep it ended up being quite late, and I woke up feeling very groggy. The last three night spent indoors with electric lights and phone connection has really messed with my body. I felt like I could sleep for the rest of the day. We got up around 7am and Brian & Paula had baked fresh bread, one of my favourite things, so we had delicious toast – and I had marmite – to start the day. Perfect.
The weather had cleared up and there were even some patches of blue sky. We hiked out and started the day along a well maintained forest track, with nice bridges over the streams which we were thankful for because the water was moving so fast. There were lots of steps up and down but overall it was a pleasant walk. It did feel weird to be walking again, my knees and feet were a bit sore, and it felt odd to be using my trekking poles again.
The track ended and we had a little bit of road walking to do. Half way along a car pulled up beside us and the man asked if we were TA hikers. He told us his address and said to call in for a cup of tea as the trail goes past his house. Well, we are saying yes to stuff so we said yes! It didn’t take us long and he saw us go by and called us in. Guy was a really interesting and really nice man, he had some great stories and by the time we had been there 2.5 hours he had to usher us out because he had stuff to do!! It was already 1:30pm and we had barely done any miles yet, we still had about 15 to go. He sent us on our way with a bag of plums for Julia (I don’t really like plums).
We finished up the road walking and then found the half way sign people had been telling us about. We added our names to the board, there don’t seem to be that many names on there but we saw a few we recognised, then moved on to find a spot to have some lunch. It wasn’t the most glamorous spot but we just needed a quick bite and then we moved on.
I still wasn’t feeling wonderful, it was a struggle to get myself going, I was really lacking motivation to walk anywhere. Lying down was really the only thing that held any interest for me. The trail continued along gravel roads and paved roads and Julia went off ahead, so I plugged myself in to some podcasts to try and distract myself from the fact I was doing the one thing I really didn’t want to do. Towards the end of the road walk there were rivers of water flowing down the road and water cascading over the banks on the side of the road. This volume of water does not bode well for the rumoured stream crossings we have ahead of us!
I arrived at the car park where Julia was preparing her evening meal as she has decided to cold rehydrate noodles and mashed potatoes – known in hiking circles as a ramen bomb (gross). I sat at the picnic table and I could barely keep my eyes open, I was also getting really cold so we didn’t stay too long. There was a climb ahead and I just wanted to get it all out the way so I could pitch my tent, get in it and lie down as soon as possible.
The next part of the trail was a biking track so it was easy to walk along, and the climb was gradual and not too difficult. The wind had picked up and it was blowing straight into our faces which made it a little tough but at least it wasn’t raining. We had a few streams to cross and the first two were easy to hop across, unfortunately on the second one I slipped on a rock and I dunked my right foot into the water. I had one very wet foot, but it could have been worse, I could have had 2 very wet feet. Someone had created another 1500km (half way) sign. The trail changes every year, with different routes as the trust gains permission to go through private land or they reroute away from roads, so the half way point is difficult to pin down exactly, but we were happy enough to say we reached half way today, wherever that point actually was.
We carried on along mostly gravel roads for the next few miles, I was still finding it tough to move quickly, my feet and knees hurt and I just felt generally tired, so Julia was off ahead and I found myself walking alone for the first time in a long time. I had so many ideas for little projects and ideas for things to write about and I really wanted to stop and capture them before I forgot, but it was a bit chilly and I had to keep walking. Of course I can’t remember half of what I thought about now, and I don’t seem to have time in the evenings capture everything. Very frustrating.
We finally got to the camp spot and I was totally done in. It hadn’t been a particularly difficult day but I was exhausted. I pitched my tent and got everything done as quickly as possible so I could lie down. I was really cold so I layered up and got in my sleeping bag and immediately started to overheat. I shovelled in my tuna wrap, treated myself to two squares of dark salted caramel chocolate and began writing.
We were pitched in a grassy area next to a grassy track, and around dusk a truck drove along the track which was quite surprising. It’s a good job Julia didn’t set her tent up any further over as she would have got run over! The guy said something out the window but I could make it out. I’m hoping it was just hello or good evening or something. A few minutes later I heard voices and I thought it was the man coming back to speak to us. I looked out my tent to see two people stood right in front of me which was mildly terrifying! It turned out to be Sandy and Colin, the French Canadian couple we last saw around Taumarunui. French is their first language and I love the way Sandy speaks, she had a really heavy French accent and doesn’t pronounce ‘H’ at all. I think of the British sitcom Allo Allo every time she speaks! It was great to see them again, we had discussed where we thought they were earlier in the day. They set up camp next to us.
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.