8.45am Peak 445 Mangatawhiri Track
Oh boy ! It feels like i am leaking everywhere. The sweat has just been pouring off me for the last hour and a half. There was a steep climb up from the deserted camp I stayed at last night. The track had steps to start. I counted 186 on one flight (i went back down to check….no i b%^&%y well didn’t). I think “flight” is the wrong descriptive word to use for steps, they should change them to a “slog of steps” or a “stagger of steps” .
I’ve just come past a warning sign that states this track I’m going on now is essentially serious stuff and for “experienced and well equipped trampers only”, I nearly turned back but remembered that must include me now!
I “broke’ camp about 7 (see how I’m using the terminology) muesli bar in hand and heading for Mercer as my end goal. Plenty of supplejack to supplement my breakfast but it has come back with a vengeance in this forest and has blocking my path regularly so far. Managed to get signal on phone at top here and have been invited to have a feed down near Wellington from James (Karlas fiance)
6.30pm Mercer Services SH2
Welcome to Waikato- my third region on the trail
Pretty sure I’ll not get any trail magic in this motorway service centre but I’ll tell you what .. a pint of Speights cider and the biggest “MEGA” burger ever (yes even bigger than the Mangawhai “Big Boy”) has worked miracles. I was really struggling with the last sections and wanted it all to end sooner than it did but at least I am here at my intended goal after 11 hours and 25km of walking.
The forest trail was “intense” probably the thickest bush on the trail itself so far and at times it was a physical wrestle to get through the vegetation. It took me another 4 hours to get to the road junction exuding sweat every step. I was too tired to make the brew I’d planned to reward myself with once i eventually spewed me out. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the forest and will miss them but they probably are the most physically and mentally demanding. After the forest had taken its toll I have the daunting distance of 17km still to get to Mercer and began to doubt I had enough in the tank. But heigh ho you just put one front in front of the other and away you go.
At end of Lyons Road chatted to a couple of road worker parked up in their trucks. One was an Aussie just moved over here wife his french wife. He was hoping to get to South Island this winter as had not seen snow in his life. The other guy was a pom from london who’d been over for 3 years now and loved it. He said the whanganui river was stunning so I’m looking forward to this even more now (and the change from walking)
Next section was the river track over some drained marshes (similar to the Poldens in Holland?). Met one of farmers who explained the irrigation system and was impressed when I know what an Archimedes screw was! he played mercer services down but said irish pub was ok. we also discovered a dead swan still warm and deduced it must have been electrocuted when it flew into nearby pylon.
8.30pm still in Irish pub
Enjoying another cider after doing a reccie of the area to find a spot to camp nearby so can use services in morning. Theres 2 options behind a Nissen hut or behind the disused toilets. I’m waiting for it to get darker before heading off to pitch tent. Watching NZ vs. India highlights (NZ win)
Been texting Katrin and Karla. Katrin is in the Coromandel doing a 9 day hike around the top of the peninsula, she’s then off to Rotorua, then Waikarremoana, then aiming to get to tongariro same time as Chris and I (23rd Feb?). She had met up with Brian who is in fine form, losing weight etc, she said she’d had to leave him one morning “like a bad lover” when he declined a wake up tent shake. Brian is planning to hitch to Hamilton to rejoin TA around there. Karla is less than half a day behind. She did the forest section this afternoon and has been picked up by friend who she is staying with and will do river walk to Mercer in morning.
Waitangi Day here tomorrow (Thurs 6th Feb) Seems a strange public holiday falling on a Thursday. Also the day is about celebrating the founding of the nation but it always seems to raise old sores aith wha the treaty actually is.