Jeez!! that last hour or so was so frustrating. All was going well, got to trig point after about 2 hours, could see Mangawhai Heads all the way down to the coast and thinking “pah…5-6 hours!, I’ll have this cracked in 4!”
The trail notes do warn you
“Caution: the walkway passes through several junctions with no signage. a map and compass are essential as it is easy to take the wrong turning”
Well, that ok thought i cos I’ve got my GPS loaded with the TA trail and I can pinpoint myself against to the nearest metre!
It got very confusing. There were signs at the top, Brynderwyn walkway, both west and east, even the TA was marked and arrowed …but in opposite direction to my GPS trail map. so I choose the path which was kinda going in direction of the GPS version but after 100m had veered off so I went back to the trig to start again. The nearest route seemed to be going back down the trail I’d walked up to where another path was running parallel, Ah Ha I thought that must be it so precariously over the barbed wire fence I went with my GPS on and fully focussed. This new path kinda went in the same direction but never got to the TA mapped route. It appeared to be a new road for lots of sub-divisions as there were heaps of LOT numbers signed. The road then opened up into a broad grassy area with some awesome views but then came to an abrupt halt with just gorse and dense bush, and i mean dense bush all around. According to the GPS map the TA was only 27m away down through this aforementioned dense bush, and I mean dense bush, and did I mention it was steep, and I mean steep dense bush. So what should I do? backtrack to summit again only to have same dilemma or forge into this dense (and don’t forget steep) bush? Yeo, hats what I did, I plunged in and was immediately lacerated by the first line of defense, live upright gorse bushes which resisted my intrusion until all its prickles had hit their mark,then the dead gorse took over and lossened its till prickly prickly into my boots and socks. then came the ferns whos tendrils and fronds blocked my passage at every turn and whenever i tried to use them to support myself for dear life promptly gave way. the ferns were rearguarded by spindly scrub at the junctions where the aforementioned fern tendrils and fronds were at their thinnest so that I had to reconsider and forge directly through the fern plants. After battling for 10 minutes to achieve the 27m which should have released me onto the path, albeit somewhat worse for wear, it did no such thing and I bisected what I am convinced is now only a virtual trail on the internet! “this is a little disappointing” thought i as I faced the prospect of having to now re-enter the dense (and steep) bush this time going upslope. going back in was harder still and I somehow kept getting deflected to the left so that instead of only enduring the aforementioned 27metres I missed the grassy opening and continued to blunder through the bush for at least double the distance and re-emerge (once the dead and live gorse had had their second crack at me).
Somehow I backtracked and felt my way including through private property, barbed wire, locked gates (but luckily no dogs) and ended up on a track where I met a nice chap walking by himself. he had walked up from Mangawhai and reassured me I was n the right trail. We met again when I was having a well deserved lunch to calm my nerves and we compared maps. He had the v26 of the TA to my V32 and his showed the TA route as exactly the same as the Brynderwyn Walkway whereas V32 has a very different route (one that I’m convinced doesn’t exist!). I thought to email Rob at the TA to check and even donate money for better signage at the Trig to reassure future walkers. The nice chap does a lot of the TA routes in sections between Whangarei and the Waikato.
5pm Mangawhai Heads Camp
Just arrived, there’s a bit of a queue at the office so i’m sitting in the shade recovering. Ny right thigh is playing up again, came on about an hour ago so bit of a worry, will see how feels in morning.
Rest of the days walking was tough, but didn’t lose my way again (only reminder was picking out gorse prickles from some of my extremities).
There is an absolutely gorgeous cliff line walk into Mangawhai heads with awesome views out to the ocean and the islands, I was resting my leg there when met Jane and Bob who were going for a swim down to the beach. We chatted for a while about the trail and why I was doing it. Jane suggested I put dads shirt on Taumahunga summit Trig which is down the line a bit and they would look out for it. I gave them my name and blog so if you are reading this Jane and Bob Hi, thanks for stopping and hope I find the right spot. Bob said the cliff walk here at Mangawhai was a developer mitigation contribution for the pretty snazzier new houses nearby. Good idea!
I’ve had a swim in the estuary just the right temperature followed by a warm shower. the little kiwi girl in tent next to me kept coming over for a chat which was entertaining.
I’ve just walked the km or so into town where there are quite a few eating options but I just had to have “The Big Boy” burger and chips (plus family pot of ketchup and Aoili) at the takeaway,. Imagine a big Mac on steroids, must be about 4 times as big and I could get my mouth round its gargantuan girth. My leg has eased off and checking my route for tomorrow to Pakiri Beach camp, its longer at 27km but mostly flattish (famous last words) The following day does look harder with some summits. If I can move with this BIG Boy inside me back to camp I will sleep like a log