Like a pig in mud

I’m currently camping at km 146 of the TA trail in the Raetea Forest 721m above sea level. I thought yesterday through the Herekino Forest was bad, but that was just a warm up. Today the trail literally kicked my arse, and dropped me in the mud multiple times after so carefully avoiding it yesterday.

I’m glad the Herekino Forest was so horrible, because after 15km of road walking today, when the Raetea Forest section proved worse, I was already prepared for it. For the first four hours I just sucked it up, then I got a little more aggressive in my cursing by the afternoon. I was going to push 31km to get out of the forest, but after so many hours, there’s no way my knees would have stood up to the 8km descent.

This was a video I took towards the end of the Herekino Forest yesterday.

I’m pretty sure I can camp in this forest, but there’s absolutely no water here, and after sweating through my clothing so badly that I even had to ring out my handkerchief from my pocket, I’m rationing the 400ml I have left for tonight and the 500ml I’ve saved to get me 8km to water tomorrow. I walked from 6:30am until nearly 6pm this evening and I only made it 24km. This trail is no joke. I’m not sure I’ve climbed anything this steep except for maybe the Howe Sound Crest Trail between Vancouver and Squamish in Canada. The Kiwis obviously have no desire for switchbacks because the trail literally goes straight up and down.

It hasn’t rained since I arrived in NZ, so I can’t even imagine what these sections must be like when it’s wet. It’s sad really because these forest tracks are only going to continue getting tramped on and the mud situation will only get worse. Yesterday I seriously asked myself what the hell am I doing here, but today my body and feet actually felt better so I didn’t have such dark thoughts, but it’s a pretty morbid start to the TA – the painful beach and then the steep muddy forests. What on earth will be next?

I can’t wait to catch up to more hikers to hear what they think of the trail. I seem to be two days behind the folks ahead and one day ahead of the folks behind so I’ve seen no one for the past two days. I even slept in a weird thru-hiker shack in the middle of a cow paddock alone last night which was fun but creepy when I heard a possum running under my bunk bed. I was too tired to write last night so here is the video I took instead.

I’m actually really glad I camped when I did tonight because I’m feeling pumped about tomorrow and the trail for the first time since day one. I already feel stronger, and apart from the painful road walking I’m feeling psyched about what’s to come! I just hope I run into a few more hikers in my next town stop in Kerikeri. I should be there in 2 days time!

9 thoughts on “Like a pig in mud”

  1. That’s actually a lux drop toilet. At least it has three sides! Such contrast in trail conditions in such a short time. Your are blessed not to have had rain on that forest trail – what a poor piece of train planning. BTW there are no venomous spiders or snakes in New Zealand – St Patrick must have also been there before he got to Ireland. The possum plague is courtesy of Australia and they are a terrible pest there now since crossing the Tasman Sea (by ship) and there are no natural predators. Like rabbits bred to plague proportions in Australia. Hope the blisters are getting better.

  2. Hi darling, looking at the map with the elevation, you should have taken a toboggan sled and just slide down those muddy paths. Remember this is a challenging trail, not just a walk in the forest. It is lovely that you left the walking guide of the trail here with us, we can follow your movements a little. I love that toilet , so spoiled with something like that, no digging. Beautiful nature enjoy it all, love Mutti xx

  3. Oh wow, that really looks and sounds problematic if it stays like this even in drier weather, especially since the trail is so young! What will it look like in six years if it keeps gaining momentum and more people pass? What I normally see is that people try to avoid the mud by stepping to the side – not sure if that is possible there or if the forest is too thick? I do hope they can find some kind of solution for it (gravel?), so that the trail does not destroy the forest.
    Anyway, so happy to see you! Please don’t worry about complaining, this is simply also part of the truth on the trail, and you balance it out with your positive outlook on the landscape and birds. I at least come here for both the hard and the beautiful! Hoping your feet fare well and keep healing, great to hear that you are feeling stronger already! Hope the next days bring many more lovely views and moments and connections with people!

    1. Thank you Fine! I’m starting to understand this trail a little better and soon we’ll find a common understanding like the PCT. Love and hate are all part of the experience!

  4. UghMudTrudge((((sp?, darn frustration after so many years…looks right, then the word looks wrong…damn being old and to remember that was once a surfer, BA Degree, music Degree, and can still a composer,a backpacker. and a building contractor, and so on and on and can’t spell. Ugh!!!!…oops, this is all about you and not me.))) …….. slugging along jn mud up and down sounds yukky and and terribly trying….I will feel alot better when your trail will be easier….. still, I am so glad you are doing what you love. …’tripin wild’ smiling from ear to ear, sweetie! much lovin’ from your old-bold friend in northern California …..Barbie

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