Distance travelled today: 27 km
Total TA distance covered: 2509 km
Less than 500 km to go.
There is nothing like a nice dry tent and I’m sticking to my theory that sleeping under tree cover helps a lot with this. Leaving Lake Middleton I had an easy start walking a few kilometres on road to trail turn off. There wasn’t much traffic apart from a bunch of cyclists off early for the day. They all hollered good morning remarks on their way past.
Turning off the road it was an easy walk to the Glen Mary Ski Club and up on old 4wd tracks through grazed pasture country for 2 km to link onto the A2O track again. This looked to be a relatively new construction and was perfect to walk on. It would have been a dream to ride it. Nice wide paths, new bridges over creek lines and looks of room for cyclists to pass. Both the TA and A2O share this piece of track. It entered into beech forest which I’ve missed being out the exposed Canterbury plains for more than a week now.
Te Araroa soon left the A2O, heading west steeply up through beech forest, following the Freestone Creek up stream. It was great to be back under tree cover but it didn’t last. Sadly it exited the trees and back into what has become my least favourite walking, through tussock country. There was a partial track however there were still plenty of sections where you had to pick your own route through.
Around 3 kilometres into the tussock I was starting to get a bit shitty and wasn’t enjoying this section a hell of a lot. That quickly improved as the trail headed up past some rocky bluffs to the head waters of the Ahurui River East Branch. There were tricky, scrambling sections down to the river, with the tussocks continuing high up in the valley and a few river crossings to contend with. Initially it was still hard walking for serval more kilometres but as the river wound down the valley, the valley opened up wider and the walking became easier as the trail snuck up high to some terraces and flatter ground up above the river.
On the terraces the grass was much shorter and the there was more of a defined trail over the rocky ground. I liked this and was throughly enjoying the back end of the day, strolling along, taking in the sights. The last 10 km of the day were through similar country, following the Ahurui River. I didn’t have a set destination for the day but by 5:30pm I’d had enough and found a sheltered camp under pines. Along the way I passed the 2500 km mark but didn’t really pay that much attention, only noticing this at the end of the day. Another sheltered camp was great as the wind was howling out off the hills down onto the flats. My chosen stop would set me up well to cross the Ahurui River proper first thing tomorrow morning.