TA Day 58, ‘slackpack’ Palmerston North to Kahuterawa Park, 21 km

Setting off for a short slackpack on Christmas day already soaking wet.
Setting off for a short slackpack on Christmas day already soaking wet.

It rained last night and is still raining all morning. I have tea and toast with Robb as Tara hands me a present snuck under the tree by the fat, orange tabby, Fred – tuna packets, nuts and chocolate!

I forget to mention last night in Val and Tony’s neighborhood are huge light displays with everyone out to enjoy. Quite American, actually and it made me miss home.

No one is out today in this grim weather. Christmas is a wash with constant rain, so I ask Robb and Tara if they might allow me to slackpack this portion of the trail rather than move on and camp tonight, then join their family for more holiday cheer. And they say, yes, giving me the best Christmas present ever to do this. I want to pick up k’s, but would like to stay dry if at all possible.

Summing up the situation perfectly on this rainiest Christmas in decades.
Summing up the situation perfectly on this rainiest Christmas in decades.
Brilliant red blossoms on the Pohutukawa or New Zealand Christmas tree.
Brilliant red blossoms on the Pohutukawa or New Zealand Christmas tree.
Tara and Rob welcomed onto their lives like family.
Tara and Rob welcomed onto their lives like family.
It was an easy day of walking mostly through rolling fields.
It was an easy day of walking mostly through rolling fields.

In New Zealand, ‘showers’ means a burst of downpours followed by clearing. ‘Rain’ means non-stop precipitation. The forecast for today is the latter. I walk on a bike path to Massey University which is absolutely deserted and prepare for tramping track that turns out to be just lovely, puddly Bledisloe Park.

I slosh through the Upper Turitea green corridor and decide road walking is fine on such a wet day. The foothills loom above me in the gloom. Up and up I go as the road turns to track. At a junction, a sign tells me I am at the halfway point to Bluff. At that moment the rain stops and the sun comes out, I kid you not.

Hot pokers next to a gate.
Hot pokers next to a gate.
Colorful tags under the bridge. The day was so grim and it was a holiday, I saw absolutely no one all day.
Colorful tags under the bridge. The day was so grim and it was a holiday, I saw absolutely no one all day.
Tree ferns heavy with moisture.
Tree ferns heavy with moisture.

I speed up as the track turns to country road and follows a fast moving river into the forest. My slackpack ends for the day and Robb picks me up and brings me to Tara’s youngest sister Amy’s house for piles of food and drinks and more “other” family time.

A tent goes up in the sunshine before the thunder rumbles and we get a biblical downpour, all the food passed one hand to the next and into the house through the window.

There’s only one thing to do in a situation like this – make popcorn and watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’

A sagging fencepost reminds me to keep well to the right.
A sagging fencepost reminds me to keep well to the right.
On a rainy day, it's the little things that draw the attention.
On a rainy day, it’s the little things that draw the attention.
Blissful took the proper trail next to the stream which turned out to be its own stream before jumping back onto the road.
Blissful took the proper trail next to the stream which turned out to be its own stream before jumping back onto the road.

It really is pretty wonderful, rain and all. The best Christmas present ever to get a few k’s under my belt, then get rescued from most certainly an awful night camping in a swamp.

The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow, so off I’ll go and hope the rivers aren’t too swollen. But that’s for tomorrow. Right now Clarence is trying to get his wings.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Another Christmas celebration with Tara's little sister and family.
Another Christmas celebration with Tara’s little sister and family.
A thru-hiker's dream.
A thru-hiker’s dream.
Happy family outside before the rain started pounding down.
Happy family outside before the rain started pounding down.
Newlyweds putting on their first Christmas for the family.
Newlyweds putting on their first Christmas for the family.
Someone could care less about the rain.
Someone could care less about the rain.
Fred and Christmas movies at Tara and Rob's house.
Fred and Christmas movies at Tara and Rob’s house.

Published by alison young

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

Reader Comments

  1. Thank you for your wonderful observations, beautiful writing and perseverance. You have developed an intimate relationship with rain!

  2. Fabulous feast, fun friends & fine film=Merry Christmas anywhere in the world! Wishing you a week of memorable dry & partly cloudy hiking days to finish off the year in style.

  3. Merry Christmas Alison!! Glad you had a wonderful day. Thinking of you and hoping for clearer weather for you. Susie & family

  4. Merry Christmas, Alison! Here’s an old Kundalini yoga song that is my wish for you:

    May the longtime sun shine upon you,
    All love surround you,
    And the pure light within you
    Guide your way on.

    Hugs,
    Joan

  5. First of all a merry X-mas to you! I truely admire the way you deal with the rain. I guess it would make me angry and – in the end – depressed. Respect! It’s great to follow you day by day, to read about the track (and the discussions with the locals), the ‘encounters’, the beautiful nature, about walking alone or not, about walking all the way or not (go for it! i’m on the side of the purists!) and about your thoughts and doubts. The last is intriguing and curious at the same time (and recognizable based on a very limited experience in the Alps). Being so experienced in hiking and still wondering about how, what, where, why. It is open and honest but I can’t help figuring – for example… – Neil Armstrong walking on the moon thinking ‘am I capable of doing this?’ 🙂 . Anyway, I wish you less rain in 2019 (and the rest of 2018). Thx for this beautiful diary!

  6. “I’m Dreaming of a Wet Christmas…” (The original having been written in the midst of a sweltering California summer.) Aisde from being December and NZ, it looks like you could have been hiking out here in the damp forests of of the “Wet” Coast of British Columbia in late spring. What a lovely shot of the brilliant Indian Paintbrush amongst the endless green. Probably just what you needed to lift your spirits at that point.

    Love the pic of the kid in the puddle! As poet Paul Heyse wrote in his translation of an Italian poem in his Italienische Liederbuch – beautifully set by Hugo Wolf- “Auch kleine Dinge können uns entzücken”- even small things can delight us.

    How nice that their cat decided to share your Christmas nostalgia. Cats are very wise.

    Onwards and… downwards towards the New Year, then 🙂

  7. Here’s another great idea for you to consider: rain skis. You already have the poles! Think of the speeds you could achieve downhill or across grassy flats.

    Keep slogging on! Safe travels!

  8. glad for your Christmas respite….glad the fluffy tabby is still with you.
    Your writing observations improve each day. Continued safe journey.

  9. Merry Christmas, DD,
    I’m thinking of you watching Jimmy Stewart. Would love to watch it with you. Stay dry today! We look forward to seeing Eric and Alexandria for three days. We’ll give a toast to you – our amazing daughter, sister, aunt – and send encouraging words. Love and Light to you on your journey.

  10. Hi Alison – Sounds like you had a great – if atypical – Christmas!! So glad that you did, and my you have more sunny days than cloudy in the upcoming weeks.

    Merry Christmas!

  11. Just came across this in The Guardian (https://tinyurl.com/ya6tzqhn)

    “Two children are on track to become the youngest to walk the national trail running the length of New Zealand, having completed the entire North Island a few days before Christmas.”

    “… the greatest conflict so far [was] which flavour muesli bar the family would eat each day.” LOL. 🙂

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