Sunday, 8 November 2015

Of Forests, Mud, Thirst, Synchronicity & International Violinists - Day 6 Ahipara to end of Herenkino (24.5km)

Got up early on the 7th - it was around 6 km to the start of the first forest- along some back roads easy enough walking, but still took me two hours. Full pack is really slowing me down. It was a lovely day but it was quite warm on the bitumen, throw in a good road climb to the real start of the Herinkino trail and I felt like I'd done a decent walk before I started. Herinkino was basically an up hill climb for most of the day, lots of roots, lots of water so didn't have to carry much. Even though you could see the forest was drier than it could be there was still mud everywhere which added another dimension to the toughness. There was the dry, sticky mud that you could still walk through but which caked around the edges of your shoe so that you ended up carrying an extra kilo on each foot (Type 1); then there was the clayey, slippery mud that could take you out even on a flat bit (Type 2); Type 3 (my favourite) was the one where you sank half way up your calves and then had to use all your effort to get your leg out while still retaining your shoe. I have named this one Carnivore Mud because it sure wanted a piece of me and used to sneak up on me unexpected. Mud was an energy sapper and made a tough trail even more challenging. I was doing pretty well until lunch where I'd stopped by the creek which was our last water fill before finishing climbing over the saddle and out (mind you not half way yet). Stefan, Harriet (formerly known as Henrietta) and Alex (formerly known as Alex/Aleck?) caught up with me at the creek and we talked about the trail so far, number of falls each etc. Stefan headed out just before me. We crossed the creek and headed up what was essentially a vertical, muddy wall with no foot pads or trees close enough together to use to help you up. I could feel myself sliding backwards and with a full pack that wasn't going to be pretty. Some how I managed to get myself on my knees, I think or may be I was lying on the wall, but I stopped sliding. I don't know how I did it but I followed a grunting Stefan up and by the time I got to where I could stand up, Stefan had gone. I played tag with Harriet and Alex for the rest of the day in conditions that seemed to be deteriorating. It seemed to take forever to get to the halfway mark and then twice as long to get out. The descent out was a nightmare for me, because I was tired my concentration and coordination went out the window, so I was falling a lot more and yelling at myself and the forest for falling! The descent was steep and the end was never coming, it was getting dark and that was freaking me out that I might get stuck in the forest with nowhere to camp if I didn't get out soon. Just when you didn't think there were any more surprises, I got to a point in the trail where the trail marker pointed down. It was literally a 2-3m drop, no foot pads, straight down. I couldn't fly and I knew jumping may not end well, so I looked around and there was a bit of Supple Jack hanging down. It wasn't long enough to to get me to the bottom, but there was a bit of a stump just after. The plan was to  use the vine to slow my decent and the with my amazing agility transfer my handhold to the stump to lower myself to the track below. Vine bit worked pretty well, agile transfer not so well but I got to the bottom relatively unscathed, and before much longer, finally made it out of the forest. There was still a day going on out of the woods and I was so happy to be out. The track was now a grassy farm track and as I headed down to the road I came across Hariett and Alex and joined them for the night. 

It was an 11km road walk to the next Forest and given how much time it had taken me to get through Herenkino, I didn't think I'd be able to do the 11km plus the 18km through the Forest in one day. So change of plan decided I would just get to the Raetea Summit and stay there which would be around the 20km for the day.

Pigeon xx

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