8pm We have set up camp just of the forest track. Katrin arrived much to our surprise at around 6pm and was delighted to find us here. We are surrounded by trees and podocarps which is pretty special, seen a few fantails flirting around us and the Morepork are cranking up. It’s been a long day for me as my right foot pad blister is getting infected and sore with every step. We only managed about 16km today, partly due to my foot but also the forest is pretty much vertical in places with steep ascents and I’m having to tread gingerly downhill as not only does it hurt blister more but I did slip and have hurt my knee as a result. I can’t step up on my right leg so having to adjust to use the left. Will see what a nights rest does but I will still need to walk out of the forest whatever.
The campsite at Ahipara was good, had free wifi for once and there is nothing quite like a cold drink after a hot walk. We (Brian, Karla and I) camped together and have even begun to share laundry loads. having wifi is a mixed blessing as I ended up spending hours trying to download skype but it never happened. Time passed on this then I realised that my feet were still in the walking shoes and were getting super sore (think there needs to be a scale to register blister sorenes for hikers). I should have removed the footwear to let then cool and get fresh air to them, stupid.
Brian and I walked (I hobbled actually) into Ahipara shopping area (about 3 of them in total but was all we needed, a diary, a takeaway and a liquor store! Had a good chat with Brian who opened up a bit about himself which was nice to feel able to talk with me. By time we got back to camp Katrin had made it and was feeling better with her custom cut shoes. We shared beers, cider and leftover chips in a bit of warm drizzle.
Had a laugh with Karla when feeding hords of sparrows bits of chips an bread, managed to get them into Brians tent while Brian was asleep in there, even perching on him. Brian not feeling too good today so was a bit mean. Talking about our plans for tomorrow and Brian felt needed to rest up for a day. Karla keen to crack on and I said would go too, Katrin thought she would go too but maybe later on in the day.
I was up at 5am sorting stuff out including plasters around every toe, the right pad seems to be the worst and in turning red underneath the skin. We walked at a really steady pace on the road which seemed ok and had a longish break before heading into the forest (dad’s shirt being placed on the track sign for today). Whilst we rested a young german girl came up the hill on a bike, only around 20 and small little thing. She had cycled from Christchurch to Cape Reinga and was now heading back to Auckland with only 4 days before her flight, Wow!
forest went immediately vertical and was heart pumping shock after the flat of the beach but actually nicer and I coped ok (must have been all the squats I did!!). Karla is a bit of a geek (she won’t mind me saying) and is into Geocaches so I was pretty relieved to have a break whilst she hunted around for the cache just inside the forest. She found it ok but couldn’t get her thingy into the small box (her “thingy” was a tag asking to be taken all the way to Bluff in S.Island, people log it on a website to say where the take it/find it)
Forest has it’s own challenges and you need to mentally focus much more on where placing your feet and your balance it much harder to get with a rucksack on your back. It seems to takes ages to get anywhere and the km markers came slowly. The suggested 2 hours to the Kauri Grove took more like 4, and very spectacular they were too (photo is a smaller one we saw earlier on path), they are truly natures giants and do feel mystical and otherworldly when you see and touch them.
I was really grateful when Karla suggested we stop and camp at about 4pm (9 hours after we set off). I had a super meal with Channa massala and vegetable pilau rice.
Katrin arrived just after we’d eaten and I made her a cup of coffee. She has been having a few issues with her gear and her stove had not yet been lit, she had carried a whole litre of Kerosene in her pack today only to find it didn’t work so she borrowed mine and had her first cooked meal on wild camp (had been eating packets cold to date!). Katrin returned favour with some antiseptic spray which stung like buggery (or so I imagine)
Brian may well join us again as he is not doing some of the road “connectors” so could well catch up.