More and even more rain, but finally the sun is up and the sky is pink. I am starting to doubt my capacity to complete this trail if the rain and mud continue. The misery of wet feet is seeping into my soul. Thank the goddess for a respite with these trail angels, Allan and Marianne.
What’s happened to stop the rain is a cold snap, but it’s supposed to move on in the coming days. It will be a long, possibly boring day on road, but at least easy walking and no mud!
Black clouds chase me, a half rainbow in the middle as I go up a steep grade. Nope, the rain is not really stopped as it just starts pouring again, but all I can do is just keep plodding along in it.
And then, just like that it clears. The air is cool and delicious up this high. Maybe the storms will moderate. In Te Kuiti a guy offered me a ride past all this. Marianne told me she saw me on the road and is usually the one to pick up hikers but thought this time, “Walk on!” She was surprised when Alan had me in his car heading up the hill to their home. There’s something in walking it all. You sometimes feel like hell, but then again, there’s a sense of accomplishment and invariably, things will change. It can’t rain forever, can it?
I break for food and lighten the load a bit, coming to the land of grassy cones – volcanoes? Don’t know. But later find out this entire landscape is ancient ash as well as “karst” or sandstone, creating the famous caves of Waitomo as well as cone shaped hills.
The raincoat is on, then off, on, and off again – like a bad relationship. Clouds and me, we’re co-dependent. The air is crisp as a guy passes in a 4×4 + 4 dogs. I reach the highway and have lunch against a sign.
I pass the abattoir. Yup, all those animals I spoke to in the fields end up here. But they really have a pretty nice life in the meadows until that last day. I wonder if the barefoot protester I’d heard about will walk this section.
Super nice road workers pass and pops open his door when he sees me coming. He doesn’t offer a ride, rather aksing if I’d like a piece of chocolate cake and banana! “That’ll get you to the end.”
Right after, a car stops and it’s Chloe! Yay for hiking friends. I tell her I’ll see her in town. She closes the door as it starts to rain again.
Was that really necessary?
I reach the Pa Harakeke and as I get inside, the heavens open full on. Somehow the trail provided and I am safely under the canopy. The gal gives me hot tea and allows me to dry out. Chloe has been waiting for me, not appearing pleased about that at all.
The rain lets up and we walk two more kilometers to Ngaharenga campsite with just enough time to set up before it pours rain, then stops again for some ‘food enjoyment.’ I’m so glad I found Chloe, even if she gets irritated fast. And then Vera and the Polish couple Maciej and Renata are dropped off and we’re five finally enjoying intense sunshine and comparing notes on the last section.
Vera decided it was too hard and not worth it, but feels disappointment that the trail notes give no warning and she discovers how hard it is from blogs. Chloe doesn’t bother with the river trail after a mouse chewed a hole in her tent and stole her food. The Polish couple walk it and one is injured, mostly from overuse, but share my opinion that there should be some trail maintenance. Chloe thinks we should simply assume the risk or not do it. I guess my thoughts are the trail should be at least minimally maintained, to avoid hiker injury, but also to make the trail more enjoyable.
The coming days are on a shared bike track and will likely be well maintained and enjoyable. I’m happy to be here and to have survived the river with no injuries. Funny how sunshine can completely lift the spirits. Rare kakas fly through the campsite making their ratcheting sound.
And then it begins pouring again and we race into our tents. I can sit up in the alicoop and tend to my chores like massaging my feet with the wonderful manuka balm Casey gave me nearly a week ago. Trail life is good as Chloe begins singing “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” and starts an ear worm. We are all cuddled in and it’s only 7:30, loving each ‘tent of one’s own.’ Sweet dreams.