February 5th 2017
Makahika outdoor pursuits centre – Te Matawai hut
Total distance: 983 miles
I felt a bit sick and had some acid reflux when I lay down last night. Something I never get so I though that was odd. I was so tired I slept soundly until about 6am, but the beds were so noisy with vinyl like mattresses that crinkle every time someone moves. We had been told that to reach Te Matawai hut would be around a 7 hour day so we didn’t need to rush in the morning.
We ended up leaving around 9:30am and we hiked out with Sandy, Colin and Marcus. We had a nice easy road walk, well it would have been easy if I wasn’t trying to keep up with Sandy. She walks so fast and she is even shorter than me! We got the road done in no time at all but I was pretty tired already! I am really struggling to find the motivation for this at the moment. It was nice to be able to get to know Marcus a little better while we hiked the road. One of Julia’s trekking poles broke, it was one of the black diamond ones that fold up, and this is the 4th instance I know of this model of pole breaking. I don’t think they are meant for such demanding terrain.
We entered the farm land and I made everyone go ahead of me so I didn’t feel any pressure to go any faster than I wanted to. Plus I like to stop to take pictures, and I don’t feel like I can do that with someone behind me. We had rain overnight so we were expecting wet and muddy, even if we didn’t have any rain we would have expected wet and muddy! It was nice to put clean dry socks on this morning but within 2 minutes my feet were soaking again.
We didn’t have too far to go until the start of the forest track and we were in the Tararuas properly. We hiked through the Ohau Gorge which was a really nice walk. Everything is so lush and green, obviously because of all the rain. Everyone we have met has told us the weather is unusual for this time of year and this area is getting way more rain than usual. The west side of the ranges are getting hammered and the east side is in drought conditions. The Tararua range seems to have its own little micro climate anyway. The track was muddy and slippy but not too hard to handle.
I caught up to Sandy and Colin who were having a snack at the start of the Gable End Ridge trail. We would end up leapfrogging for most of the day. The start of the track was super steep and rocky, and in general it was just wet and muddy. The easiest thing to do was plough straight through the mud. I feared for my life several times as I slipped and tripped and saved myself from falling off the side of the track many times. The track continued to be steep and I was going very slow, but I was going continuously. I was sweating profusely as it was so muggy and I drunk more water today than I had for ages.
After a couple of hours of slogging through the mud the trail started to rise above the trees and we started to get views of the range, the exposed areas were even muddier and there were also a lot of huge flies about. I didn’t want to think about why there were so many flies. I was getting really tired and I was totally over the mud, there was just too much of it. It’s so tiring trying so hard to remain upright with every step. The track kept going up and down and up and down. It took about 3.5 hours to reach Richard’s Knob where I found Julia having a snack.
The sun was out now and the clouds had cleared a lot, the sun was intense and we sat and suffered for a while, there weren’t any good options really, it was either sit in the sun and boil or get very frustrated with the mud. There were now only 2 hours left to reach Te Matawai hut. None of the tracks here are measured in distance because the time to do the same distance varied so much depending on the terrain, so the signs are in hours. We generally do the tracks a little bit quicker than the time given, maybe an hour or half an hour less.
Julia and I walked together for about an hour and then I slowed down and she sped up. Her second pole is on the way out which isn’t good for our big day tomorrow. With only about 10 minutes to go Colin caught me up and we walked to the hut together, the last bit was rocky and steep and I felt like I had to up my pace a bit with him behind me, which was good for me because it meant we got there quicker!
The big red roof of the hut finally came into view, there were are few people already there and we weren’t sure if there were going to be enough bunks for all of us. I think there are 16 mattresses here but there is loads of space in the main room so people can lay their mats and sleeping bags down in there.
Sandy arrived just a few minutes later, it was so pleasurable to take off my shoes and socks, they are so gross and I’m not looking forward to putting them on in the morning. Alex and Holly arrived having made really good time and we all ate our dinner outside until it started to get really cold. It was only about 7:30pm but we got into our sleeping bags. The others, Jayson, Max and the German girls trickled in. We are early to bed but it’s difficult to go to sleep because it’s so noisy. The bunks are all in a line next to each other and I am lying very close to a total stranger which is a little odd, especially as he hasn’t really spoken to anyone!
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.