TA Day 12, Waikare to Helena Bay – 28 km

I get an early start. It’s overcast just as I like it. Someone else is up with a weed wacker. I wonder if he’s the same guy with the music. Soon I’ll use the river as a trail.

A big bull leaves loud patties in a screen of trees. I’m already a bit lost. Not exactly, I have GPS but nothing is marked and it’s a weedy, wet, barbed wire nightmare. Is it too much to put up a few signs?

This area is Maori and off the grid. Cars, garbage, rusting metal implements lay about. Poverty? Sure, but it’s a community too. I was told I’d meet trail angels. I’d like that.

Junked cars along the Te Araroa.
Junked cars along the Te Araroa.
The Papakauti stream is the official trail through the Russell Forest.
The Papakauti stream is the official trail through the Russell Forest.
A caravan as a guest room is typical in New Zealand.
A caravan as a guest room is typical in New Zealand.

Finally signs appear to tell me I’ve entered the Russell Forest.

Ondi catches up and we’re in and out of the creek. Stunning place, mood lifting.

We spy a swimming hole, climb down the steep, mossy bank, strip bare and dive in. Refreshing, clean, cold. Mood continues to lift.

Especially since Ondi just lets me talk. I guess I need reassurance, validation, to just unload and I’m usually better quickly.

The water is cool and fresh and there was no mud in this forest.
The water is cool and fresh and there was no mud in this forest.
Abundant lichen.
Abundant lichen.
Toadstools on a fallen tree in an overgrown section of forest.
Toadstools on a fallen tree in an overgrown section of forest.

Up and down, bushwhacking, through the Papakauti stream. It’s a fairyland of dappled light, giant ferns stroking the banks and gurgling music – and no mud!

The wind is coming downstream, the water getting every last bit of mud and sand off my La Sportivas. It’s quiet and gentle here. Each step healing whatever darkness took over yesterday with an audible plunk and kaspoosh.

The sunlight glistens on the thick vegetation as I leave the stream. Sad to move on, but getting closer to views. Birds sing in a forest that Sheryl said was in collapse.

Fern mask.
Fern mask.
No hunting. No trespassing. No exception. All dogs shot.
No hunting. No trespassing. No exception. All dogs shot.
I ate far too many gummies on the Te Araroa, but they kept me going when times got tough.
I ate far too many gummies on the Te Araroa, but they kept me going when times got tough.

The trail goes up and up over a ridge and finally down to Helena Bay. I stop at a Maori marae to have a snack in the wind, the hot sun moves in and out of cloud. Signs on this forest track warn of poison and that all dogs will be shot, no excuses.

I have another gummy dinosaur and remember that Bram gave me the rest of his gummies last night when I felt so bad. I think he’ll catch up soon. Ondi just lumbered past. I have my sights on a trail angel’s lawn for tonight.

I come across a field of pigs rooting. They take one look at me with their intelligent gaze and scamper off in a burst of snorts.

Along here are interesting homesteads of cobbled together bits and pieces; always a few comfy chairs out front, a rain barrel, lovingly placed plants and a caravan permanently parked for unexpected guests. Flowering tee trees work all the way up the hillside. Three tough guys talking at the mailbox. A tiny girl stands close and returns my wave.

A choice of dwelings.
A choice of dwelings.
Smiling during a break on the side of the road in shade.
Smiling during a break on the side of the road in shade.

The walk is long and I’m the only one of the group who does it all including the two from last night. Ah well, maybe they’ll take a rest day when I push on. The lawn is inviting, soft on my feet.

I make dinner of tuna and couscous plus some cheese then head to the beach. The sand is soft, the Pacific Ocean just right. A dog comes to play with her stick which she fetches over and over in the surf. Only 6:30 but ready to sleep.

Earlier I felt guilty about getting upset, but what good does that do, as though punishing yourself for having feelings. I know it’s stuff I need to manage, those types of people who are dismissive, but I find it hard to dismiss them and not allow whatever makes them tick not affect how I feel about myself.

The trouble is I feel insecure about what I’m doing here and even a minor slight rattles me.

Tent City at Ross's "bach."
Tent City at Ross’s “bach.”
Playing in the gentle waves at Helena Bay.
Playing in the gentle waves at Helena Bay.

I walked better and felt better today, even the road bit after the extraordinary forest had its surprises. I think even a hike has its learning curve, and it will take me time to find my rhythm, trust my decisions and take the good with the bad.

I am making friends, but many have paired up and I feel lonely. That being said, I like my own company, Today was perfectly balanced with the harder to navigate section with Ondi and after, alone.

As I sit on this lovely beach and think how far I’ve come already, I vow to take things as they come and – at least try – to let go of what doesn’t work for me.

Til tomorrow, friends.

Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

Reader Comments

  1. Allison, you are amazing and strong! You, like me, tend to over think things sometimes, but I would if I were in your shoes too! That too,. makes you stronger for all the tough days ahead. It is hard when you would like to connect with people but that is not their way of connecting. So, you forge ahead and look for the beauty and the complexity of what you are doing and that will sustain you. We, back home, think you are amazing!! Just remember there are so many of us being amazed by your journey and our thoughts are with you. We care!

  2. As much as I look forward to your wonderful descriptions, I do so to your photos even more. So nicely capturing the area! Keep your chin up; there’ll be more good times than bad on this little trek. And, as Richard apparently pointed out earlier, you’re doing this for yourself, not others 🙂

    1. Rich – and you – smart guys!!! I feel way better. Amaaazing walk through river/estuary. Going slow today due to ankle and to hit the next estuary at low tide tomorrow super early 🐥🐥🐥

  3. Never realised how spectacular the North Isaland is as folks always talk about the southern one…your photos evoke a land of such beauty and you have so much more to come…the stiles are like the ones we see in our hills in the U.K. and the straight up climbs the same, all the better to tire you out!

    Keep us smiling with your progress😀😀😀

  4. You are one gutzie girl – amazes me all you have accomplished already! God is good to keep you healthy! Press on my friend.

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