Distance travelled today: 17 km (8 hours)
Total TA distance covered: 1003km!!! 1/3 complete.
Can it get any better than this.
I could not believe it. A full day through forest and I have dry feet. I suspect it’s a change in geology and forest type that makes it this way. Looks like most of this forest has pumice under the top soil which allows the area to drain much better than just about all of the forests I have walk through to date.
From Bog Inn Hut I found the going to be really easy up to the summit of Weraroa. The hut sits at about 850 metres and the first 2.5 hours of the day followed a gentle rise along a ridge line to 1100 metres. The trail was well defined, easy to follow and make for a pleasant start to the day.
Descending down to the Waihora River it was much the same. A gentle climb. Some tiny sections of mud but easy going. I thoroughly enjoyed just taking my surroundings in, listening to the birds and enjoying the walking.
Two big surprises for today. The first coming across a trail marker indicating 1000km and 1/3 of Te Araroa complete based on the 2015 updated maps. Wow!! I’m using the 2014 maps and my 1000km mark is shown early tomorrow morning but I have followed the 2015 route for all but one section. So I’ll take it. 1000km. Holy shit that is awesome. 40days in and a good indication of my 120day estimate to complete the trail. But so long to go. 2000 smackeroos. It was a great feeling. Right there on the spot I launched into a silly dance. I pulled the gopro out but didn’t really know what to say and couldn’t repeat my impromptu dance moves, it wouldn’t have been the same.
The 2nd surprise was the descent and climb out of Mangatu Stream. All day it had been gentle climbs and rises along the way until approaching the stream. The ridgeline thinned right off to become very narrow and it looked like the way ahead disappeared straight down. It did. I would say from 20 metres up the trail descends down to river height over a a horizonal distance of 5 metres. Several vertical sections required careful climbing down using all limbs and grasping onto exposed roots. Once crossing the river over a fallen log the climb out was much the same, before getting back onto easier ground. From there it was onto the last 2km of the day to Waihaha Hut.
I got to the hut around 3:30pm and considered my options. Tomorrow is susposed to be big day with the track notes indicating 10 hours to the next hut, so I could keep pushing for a few more hours and find a spot to camp in the forest but I had no idea what the terrain would be like to find a flat spot. With 10 hours the stated time, sounds like sliw and steep going. Plus this would put me at the next hut tomorrow afternoon anyway where I’d have to make the assess the same options, to push on or stay. Arriving at the hut the DOC signs actually indicated a shorter day tomorrow, stating 12km or 7 hours to the next hut, not the 10 hours stated in the trail notes; and 18km or 9 hours out to the road end. In the end I decided to stay.
So an early afternoon it was. The sun was out and provided an opportunity to get some laundry done. I was really hot and tried to go for a swim in the river adjacent to the hut but that lasted all of about 1 minute before my legs went numb from the cold water. Just enough time to quickly dunk, splash down my sweaty body and get back into the sun to warm up and dry off. Then spend the afternoon catching up on writing my blog for the last couple of days and reading.
Late in the afternoon I was joined by Luke, shortly followed by The Princess of Darkness, Disco & Skitles and another TA tramper I was yet to meet called ‘The Hoff’ or Lewis from Australia.