Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Ninety Mile Beach - Sand, Sunshine, Seagulls and Sore Feet! Day 1 Cape Reinga to TA km 22

It took us about 3hrs to get to the Cape. We got delayed by cows and then sheep, but that was pretty cool really and I enjoyed seeing the dogs work the stock.  Maybe though That was because I was happy to delay the start a bit longer.

My pack felt like a tonne of bricks when I put it on. We strolled down to the light house to take the obligatory start photo (which took a little while because Pete couldn't work my camera properly so I ended up taking a selfie!).  With the cows, sheep and shutter issues we were later getting away than we hoped and were pushing to make the tide so we didn't have to take the headland route. The walk was really stunning with views across the ocean and the dunes beyond. When we got to the section where the rocks were passable during low tide, the tide was well in so, Murphy's Law, we had to take the alternate route. Well we would if we could find it... It was apparently marked sporadically with blue tape. The headland was criss-crossed with goat tracks that kind of, maybe could be trails if you squinted and stuck your tongue out. They were narrow, through dense stands of flax and lupin and more often than not petered out to nothing. We found some tape on one of these and sort of followed our nose around the edge (read very edge) and more by luck than good management made it down to the next beach.

Pete had originally planned to walk the first 12km with me, but as it had taken so long already, realised that it would take too long and so he said he'd just walk to the end of the beach. That turned into the top of the dunes and then to the top of the next headland. 'You really have to go you know, it's a long drive and you still have to get back over the headland. I'll be Ok. No long goodbyes'. So we gave each other a hug and with one last 'Don't forget you can always quit whenever you want' Pete was gone. I kept moving so I didn't dwell on saying goodbye too much. The track was good and the terrain was varied enough to keep my mind on the job.

I made it into Twilight Camp right on high tide and was happy to take my shoes off for a bit. I ate my heaviest dinner for lunch to try and get some weight out of my pack (we figured with full water load I was carrying 15-16kg which is pushing the limits of my ultralight pack).  I met Judith H there, who is a regular on the TA Facebook pages. She laughed when I said 'The Judith!?'

 After lunch I continued over the headland and about an hour later, I caught my first glimpse of Ninety Mile Beach. It looked really pretty from up where I was standing. On the way down the stairs I was passed by another couple of hikers (Henrietta and Aleck (Alex?) I think, who had come across Pete on the way out. 'Was he crying?' I asked. 'No' Aleck replied. 'Cheering then' I said.

I walked down onto the beach and managed another 8 or so km before I found a place to pitch my tent. It was really windy even at the back of the dunes so I had to use my pack to hold the pole rope down as the wind kept pulling the stake out. It was actually quite scary and I slept only fitfully until the wind finally dropped out.

Pigeon xx

Can you see the track? Can you see the blue tape?

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