Distance travelled today: 21 km
Total TA distance coveted: 2825 km
Forward planning. What to do?
Shout out to Restless-Kiwi, Kirstine Collins, if you’re still following this blog. Right through this trip most of the trampers I’ve walked with have constantly referred to Kirstine’s blog from last year to gauge time and distances for the days ahead and today was no exception. The crew I’m with are all walking at a similar pace to Kirstine and her blog has been an excellent resource to use in planning the coming days. You’ve set the benchmark Kirstine. The talk in the hut this morning was all about where people might walk to today based on Restless-kiwi’s blog. What ever was decided there were going to be a few long days thrown in there somewhere. Everyone had a different strategy in mind. Me, I was thinking of doing a low milage day to Telford Camp and saving a big 40 km plus day for tomorrow where there were long road sections ahead and the walking would be easier.
I left the hut first and walked for a couple of hours. The trail notes talk of unmarked track and a tough walk this morning but I found it was marked right through and had a pleasant walk right through to Lower Wairaki Hut. With only 20 kilometres or so to walk today I took it relatively easy, enjoying the beech forest. There were a heap of small sticks and branches over the trail which meant a lot of leg lifting and sections were being encroached by ferns but it was all easy enough and flattish. No big hills for the first part of the day, with the trail following undulating spurs, mostly along the contour. There were a few sections of mud as well but nothing like some of the mud previously encountered in other forests. Still, enough mud to warrant wading through the stream crossing before Lower Wairaki Hut to try and wash mud out of my shoes.
During my mid morning break Mat, Bella and Rune came through and pushed on. We played left frog along the trail for a while and caught up again at Lower Wairaki Hut. For me it was lunch time. The other guys were going to push up the long climb ahead to have lunch on top. Celistino joined me at the hut as I hooked into my standard salami and cheese wraps and Tom came through shortly after as well but pushed on to try and catch the other guys, 20 mins or so ahead.
After lunch it was onto a steep climb from the hut, rising 500m over 2 kilometres. The first kilometre climbed gradually and was all good. Constantly climbing but nothing strenuous. The last kilometre of climb really kicked up and I struggled on this. My body wanting to be done with climbs, while my mind remained strong and pushed through. One foot in front of the other I kept saying.
Topping out was awesome. I took a quick drink break in the forest before moving out of the trees onto open tops with incredible views south. I was certain I could spy Bluff off in the distance on the hazy horizon which really got me excited. I found reception on top and took another break to take in the views while catching up on emails.
From the top, the trail followed down an open rocky ridge line. This was around 1000m in elevation and moved through stunted alpine veg. I expect this area would cop quite a few southerly winds which influences the vegetation types.
Walking along the ridge was easy and fast. It was a bit rocky and the views kept distracting me from looking ahead at my footing so I stumbled along in a few places.
The days walking was drawing to an end with only a descent back down to the valley floor to Telford Camp to complete. Rain clouds threatened around the hills and just as I was approaching the camp it started to drizzle. Not much but enough to have to fdig my jacket out and to put the tent up straight away on reaching camp to keep my gear dry. And if it wasnt raining the tent would have gone up regardless due to sandflies. There were thousands of the little buggers. Any exposed flesh attracted the little thirsty blood suckers. You could slap and kill 4 or 5 at one time.
Telford Camp was a pretty shitty camp spot. Out in the open, surrounded by paddocks, cow shit, no shade and not many flat spots for more than 4 tents or so. It did have a long drop toilet and water close by that needed to be filtered. To get to Telford Camp only took around 3.5 hours, not the 6 hour DOC estimate.
Once the tent was up I was virtually confined to it due to the astronomical number of sandflies. Every time I opened the door at least 20 to 30 would get into the tent and I would launch into a murderous rampage to kill the little bastards as quickly as possible. It rained on a d off. At times I thought it was still raining but the noise was just sandflies flying into the tent material. Other trampers started to roll in including Solenne & Antoine, POD & Disco, and Celistino. All the other guys had pushed on further for the day. It was a horrible, horrible campsite. With everyone confined to tents we had to shout from tent to tent to talk.
I thought about pushing further on for the day but it didn’t make much sense to me. The next section was around 18 km through a working cattle station and access was only granted for daytime. The trail notes state that you should start the section before noon to ensure you have enough time to get across. It was close to 5:30pm and I had about 3 hours of daylight. It judged
could probably do this but decided to stay put, tackling the cattle station and long road walk tomorrow as planned.
Confined to the tent I had to do everything from within the mesh including cooking dinner with the stove inside and filtering water.