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!