Te Araroa day 78 – sand flys are the worst 

February 18th 2017
Tinline river – Rock hut
14.9 miles 
Total distance: 1159.1 miles

The sand flies didn’t let up at all, they just got worse and worse and there were, with no exaggeration, hundreds of the horrible things gathered between my net and my fly. Unfortunately I had to get my bag inside the tent from outside to pack it up and that meant I got a bunch of them inside with me. It seemed unfair that I was already being bitten when I hadn’t yet gotten out of my tent! 


Sandy and Colin were up and away early, at about 7am, and we slept in for a bit and left around 8:30am. Packing up was done as quickly as possible to avoid being bitten, but these flies don’t seem to observe the rule of not landing on you when you’re moving. It was really humid from the off but the clouds looked to be clearing and there were patches of blue sky ahead. We had a few miles more of the gravel road which was a nice easy way to start the day. We then joined the Pelorus river track which was a really nice track, as the name suggests it follows the river, but climbs high above it for most of it. The trail was a little bit sketchy in places because it had a steep drop off to the side and the rocks and roots were very slippery from all the rain. But at least there was no mud. That made me very happy! We crossed a couple of swing bridges, the scariest kind where only one person is allowed at a time, and it’s made of wire and mesh so you can see right through to the river below. We had a small climb on the way to Captain Creek hut and the sign said the whole thing would take 3 hours, but we made it to the hut in 1.5 hours. We were incredibly sweaty, it was just running off my face. For the first time in a long time I refilled my water bottle and drank a lot. 


We stopped at the hut for lunch, Sandy and Colin were already there and Lars came in a bit later, he had managed to catch us up. We laid out our wet tents to dry a bit in the semi sun and hid ourselves inside to try and get away from the sand flies which were horrific. I went outside to get water and when I returned to the hut the smell was overwhelmingly gross, with 5 very sweaty bodies filling a small space. We moved on to Middy hut, it was another sweaty, rocky, rooty walk there with a bunch of swing bridges to cross. For a few moments after the bridges I feel like I’m still bouncing. 


Middy hut was nicer than the previous one, but it was like a sauna inside and we managed to stink that one out too. Colin, Sandy and Lars decided to go down to the river for a swim, I didn’t want to walk with wet pants so I just watched them jump in while trying to kill sand flies. Surprisingly Julia turned down the opportunity to jump in the water which was very out of character! 


Next was the big climb up to our last hut and resting place for the night. It was a big 2300ft climb over 3 miles and I wasn’t really looking forward to it! I love getting to the top but I hate the process. Slow and steady is all I can manage and that’s how I took it. The estimated time was 3 hours and we managed it in 2 hours 20 minutes, with 20 minutes of that being a break because Julia got stung by a wasp on her hand. She stopped to take an antihistamine and I just used it as an excuse to sit down for a bit. My shirt was soaked and it gets cold really quickly when you stop, I couldn’t wait to get to the hut and put my sleep clothes on. 


The climb wasn’t really that bad and we were at the hut at a very reasonable time. Rocks hut is great, it’s one of the newer ones and it was super clean and nice. 16 bunks, a rain water tank and flushing toilets! I was so surprised that there were flushing toilets up here in the middle of nowhere! And they were fully stocked with toilet paper. Amazing. Still only 2 nature poos for the whole trip. We ate together around the table, all eying each other’s food. Amaury arrived looking sweater than any of us, he started late and made a big effort to catch us up. 


Just after he arrived it started to rain heavily and we whooped and cheered ourselves for avoiding the bad weather and being in the hut. Colin and Sandy had downloaded Shrek 4 onto their iPad so we all settled in to watch that which was fun, it was super cosy in the hut and although we had planned for a fire we didn’t need one. Previously Colin had the roles of fire starter, protector from giant possums and something else, so he was happy to give the role of fire starter to Lars. 


By 9pm it was dark and time for bed. 

———————————

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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