It turns out she had cleaned her boots and accidentally turned back the way we had come walked back up the stairs past the lookout and didn't twig that we had already been there! She hadn't been eating enough despite my nagging and had got the shakes just beforehand. I gave her a good lecture about eating properly as the trail was obvious and she shouldn't have got confused, but I wasn't angry anymore, just relieved.
The day had started well enough. The Massey track out of Hunua Falls was a lot of climbing but well formed and through beautiful forest. We then headed on to the Wairoa-Cossey track and the condition of the trail deteriorated to a muddy, slippery, rooty bog that we had to negotiate for 6km. It was tough and long and horrible. I was feeling shattered by the end of it and I am a lot more trail hardy than Gel. It sucked. So much for rejigging our plan to avoid the 'bog slog'!
We had planned to walk about 23km today but I didn't think we had it in us - another steep climb along the Wairoa Loop Track convinced me that we should pull up stumps at the
Mangatawhiri rather than try and push further. We had been walking 7 hours and only done 15km.
We aren't sure what to expect of the track tomorrow - our plan is to get out to the road and then try to get a ride to Mercer. 18km to the road out - in normal circumstances very doable. We have 6km road, then an unknown 6km bush - we hope, pray, wish not as muddy as today, then a further 6k road section until we hit a major road with the chance of a lift.
Fingers crossed for less mud