February 4th 2017
possible camping – Makahika outdoor pursuits centre
Total distance: 971.3 miles
I was hoping to wake up and feel a bit more motivated but that didn’t happen. The wind was flapping the tents around a lot which kept waking me up, and I made the mistake of not having a pre bed wee so I had to get up at 4am to sort that out. I really hate having to get out of my tent in the night! We didn’t bother with an alarm so of course we just kept putting off getting up. It was still super windy in the morning, but the weather always seems so much worse inside the tent.
Sandy and Colin got their shit together a lot quicker than we did and left before us. We ended up leaving around 8:45am. It was cold but within 5 minutes we were too hot and delayering. It only took us a few minutes to get to the start of the Burtons track. We knew with all the recent rain it was going to be muddy and we were right. We also knew that there were going to be a lot of stream and river crossings today so we didn’t worry at all about keeping our feet dry.
We had about 3 miles of downhill which was slow going, we made no effort to avoid the mud, and we couldn’t of even if we had wanted to. We crossed a lot of small streams which were fast flowing, we had heard they can be swollen and dangerous especially after heavy rain but today was nothing bad. Around half way we came to the Tokomaru river to cross, we had to wade upstream for a few metres against the fast flowing current. We saw the orange markers on the other side and were able to find a reasonable place to cross amongst all the unreasonable places.
Shortly after we came across a sign which explained who James Burton was, he lived in the area from 1908 to 1940 something. He built a suspension bridge but unfortunately met his demise when the bridge collapsed and he fell onto the rocks. He broke a leg and had several injuries but he managed to drag himself out, feed his dogs and get to a neighbour for help. He died from his injuries in hospital.
The rest of the burton track was muddy, the same as the first half, and the streams were actually a welcome relief as we got to rinse off some of the mud. Near the end of the track we saw Sandy and Colin having some lunch I was starving by this point so we joined them for a quick break and a snack.
We then got a slight reprieve from the mud as we walked along a 4wd track which turned into a gravel road for a short while. We made the most of this gentle cruise before hitting the next track, the Makahika track. This one of course was also super muddy and slow going. Colin caught up to me and we had a chat as we walked along so it was nice to get to know him better.
We crawled our way through the mud, slipping and sliding all over the place. Colin snapped the tip of his pole. After a while we came across Wendy and Ian, a Kiwi couple in their 70s who are walking the north island this year and will do the South Island next year. They are walking the whole thing (no hitching) which is awesome.
The weather started to get a bit shitty and the cloud and fog came down. It was making the forest really dark. We ploughed on through the mud for hours, the mud was calf deep in places and I was becoming exhausted and hungry. We made it to a lookout, which had no view because we were surrounded by cloud, Sandy and Colin were there and we had a quick snack before carrying on. Originally we had intended to camp tonight, but we have decided to push a bit further to an outdoor pursuits centre we have heard is very welcoming to TA hikers. It was really cold at the top of the climb so we didn’t hang around for long and began the steep descent. We crossed a bunch more streams, at one point we were just walking down the river. So tired and hungry.
I took a fall and ended up sitting in the mud. My legs were getting so tired so I was tripping and stumbling over stuff. The forest was so dark and the mist was making it look like a creepy movie! We finally made it out of the forest, it was nice to be back in the semi light. We walked through some grass, crossed another fast flowing river and finally joined a dirt road which meant we only had one more mile to go the get to the centre. It was starting to rain so we were pleased with our decision to push on even though we were exhausted!
When we arrived a lady called out to us through the window, go down the hill and join the others, there are about 10 of you down there, 10! We knew of Sandy and Colin and Marcus and we saw Jayson and Maxime who we met before, and we met Alex and his girlfriend Holly from England, Sonja and her sister from Germany and Emily, also from England, who works at the centre. It felt weird to be thrust into the middle of another big group.
I was handed a can of L&P on arrival, my socks we put into a group sock load, there were bunks to sleep in and a huge kitchen. I could of had a shower but there wasn’t really enough time so I just existed with the mud. It’s going to be muddy tomorrow too.
Sally, the owner of the centre, came down to see us and gave us advice on the weather and the trail ahead. She advised us not to take the official TA route because the trail is completely washed out and it’s taking people 3 hours to move 2km. A girl broke her arm last week. So we are taking an alternative route to the hut which is safer. It is due to rain in a couple of days so we want to be through the forest in 2 days rather than a more comfortable 3. She then took a few of us into Levin to resupply. By the time we got back it was nearly 10pm. Too late!
I bought some tortellini and made that, the big group bought stuff to make burgers which would have been nice but it was too late. We stayed up chatting and didn’t go to be until 12:30!! I’m amazed I managed to keep my eyes open for that long, I fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow.
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.