Te Araroa day 125 – all of the weather 

April 6th 2017
Telford campsite – woodlaw forest
21.7 miles 
Total distance: 1784.9 miles

I was woken up by mouse activity in the night. I could hear it climbing over my bag with its scratchy little mouse claws. I could have ignored it, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have chewed through anything but the noise was really irritating, so eventually I pulled my bag into the tent, hoping the mouse would go and bother someone else, and went back to sleep. 

It had started to drizzle when I woke up at 7am. There was rain predicted today, most of the country would be getting a huge downpour, but the weather maps seemed to suggest we would be on the tail end of it and only get a drizzle, with it clearing up in the afternoon. As I packed away my wet tent I hoped they were right. I also hoped they were right because that’s how I had read them and that’s how I managed to convince the québécois to do this section in 4 days and not hang out in a hut for they day. 

Sandy and Colin were packed up before us and they said they would either see us at the camp site or in town tomorrow, depending on how the day went. Crusher and I set off at 8, the weather was gross, everything was wet, the wind was cold and the air was icy. The rain came down harder with each gust of wind. We were immediately walking through long grass which soaked our feet straight away so where we came to a river crossing it was no problem to just wade right through, other than it being very very cold. After that the trail became easier as we started to follow a 4wd track with a very gentle uphill. The rain was a light drizzle, and we could hear cows mooing in the distance. As we walked further up the trail the sound of the cows got louder and louder and we saw two large groups of cows in separate fields all mooing at each other. It was quite a sight to behold, and the sound was so loud. 


We crossed a bit of farm land before joining a gravel road. The road climbed up over a couple of miles and it was quite exposed so the wind was whipping across from the east, at times it was so cold it was almost giving me brain freeze. Bursts of rain came down with the wind making life very unpleasant for my left side. At least the steady uphill was keeping me warm. The sun was trying to break through the clouds and for a while we had all of the weather happening at the same time. A little rainbow appeared and there were patches of blue hope in the sky. But the clouds rolled in again and the rain and wind continued to batter us on the one side. I waited for Crusher at the top where it was a bit windy and uncomfortable, but I thought it would be nice to wait. 

On our way down, which we could cruise on the gravel road, we saw a huge flock of sheep ahead which we assumed were being herded with the way they were moving in a pack but as we approached them it seemed they were just all moving along together of their own free will. They don’t like people and while Crusher was worried we were going to get crushed in a stampede, I knew they would just run away and then stare at us, and that’s what they did, they parted like the Red Sea for us, and ran in every direction and we got through unscathed. 


The rain stopped and the wind dried us out a bit, when we got to the end of the road we decided to take the opportunity to have a bite to eat while the weather was ok to sit for a bit. We managed to shovel some food in before it started to get too cold to be sitting still and we moved on. We walked through some rough farmland, some unknown crops, and a bunch of little cows before joining a paved road for a short distance, which turned into a gravel road before the start of the Woodlaw track. 


The track starts on the edge of a Eucalyptus forest, the trees are really pretty, very tall and straight, and the peeling bark reveals soft beautiful colours. We join farmland again and begin the slow trudge through the fields of sheep – thousands of sheep – following the fence line to make our way up the second climb of the day. We pass a couple of dead sheep which seemed to have just begun to melt into the ground, which was pretty grim, and the trail joined a 4wd track which we followed to the top. I hadn’t removed my waterproofs all day, and although the clouds were higher in the sky and less threatening, the sun was making a break through and it was less windy, it was still really cold. My hat and gloves were on and off all day long. The climb was a bit more intense than I was expecting but we got some nice views all the way over the fields and into the distance. Once at the top we made an assessment about where to camp, it was only just after 3pm and we had reached our intended camp spot for the day, not that it was much of a camp spot, so we decided to carry on and get down the other side. We could see our breath and it was getting colder so we wanted to get lower to have the chance of not such a cold night. 


There was a nice gravel road along the top of the ridge before the track descended through the forest. It was the usual rooty forest, with a few fallen trees to clamber under and over, and lots of sticks and branches to trip on. I could feel it getting warmer as we got lower. There was a camp site listed amongst the pine trees so I aimed for there, and that’s where I found the québécois already in their tent. 


I still had all my waterproofs on and I thought it would protect me from the sand flies. Colin said there weren’t any sand flies here so the ones around me much have been ones I had brought with me from the last camp! 

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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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