hike blog

videos: the glamorous life of a fledgling blogger

If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.

Tallulah Bankhead
DOC workers in New Zealand laughing at me after I tell them it wasn't supposed to rain.
“But it wasn’t supposed to rain!”

SO SORRY loyal followers of blissful hiker for causing a collective scratching-of-heads and momentary clutching-of-pearls. There is no password required to read my musings. NO PASSWORD. None. Nada.

What’s up? You might ask. Well, I’m organizing Anita Hike’s diary, tens of thousands of pictures and video and getting things into a manageable form to present both in public forums and through the written word. I’m also scouring the world for opportunities to continue my hiking quests and keep honing my artistic craft, hence the “sample of recent works” password protected post. It was meant to be a hidden page deep in the bowels of BlissfulHiker.com, but this newbie pressed the wrong key and an email blast went out. SO SORRY!

On a side note, I’ve been quite concerned about my neighbors new dog who howls in anguish if they leave him alone even for a few minutes in their side of our duplex. I can hear poor Murphy bark and moan from my office – and so I imagine he heard me, too, hollering a few unprintable expletives when that email blast was sent. Again, SO SORRY!

For your pleasure – and by way of apology , here are a few videos from New Zealand (WARNING the mud walk video has me saying the “S” word right at the start, please forgive me when considering the circumstances.

‘The African Queen’ redux.

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TA Day 45, Whakapapa River to Te Porere Redoubt – 35 km

Tongariro National Park looms ahead and Blissful hopes for good weather.
Tongariro National Park looms ahead and Blissful hopes for good weather.

Gray and ominous this morning; foggy, but no rain. Obviously I’d like ideal weather for the crossing – and my birthday this Friday – but there is something cool walking overland to the national park and having it reveal itself.

Walking is such a metaphor for life. Unless it’s a race, you can’t really rush it. You set your pace and then walk every step to where you’re going. It goes as it goes. David is gone when I’m up and then I’m next. I am not particularly fast, but steady. And this is uphill for the first several hours.

It's always best just to go straight through the mud as Floris does wearing his rain "kilt."
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TA Day 34, Pahautea hut to Kaimango Road – 18 km

Pirongia means "like a bad smell" though I would characterize more as "like a bad (and endless) squish."
Pirongia means “like a bad smell” though I would characterize more as “like a bad (and endless) squish.”

It was rain and mist all night, but I was snuggled up warm in a bunk at the hut. Sadly, there’s no view from this spectacular place, though it’s possible once out of the cloud, I’ll see the mountaintops. I did get a glimpse yesterday.

The trail down and out of Pirongia is infamous. 5.5 km with an estimated walk time of five hours. The reason? Mud. Epic mud.

It’s a group of lovely hikers here, all of us disappointed with no view but isn’t that life? We reach for the top, for the goal and come up short through no fault of our own. We have to just make the best of things. It’s not possible to wait this weather system out as rain is expected for days on end. So I eat breakfast and push on to find the next surprise.

Figuring there was safety in numbers, all nine of us leave together for the five hour walk off Pirongia in driving rain storm.
Figuring there was safety in numbers, all nine of us leave together for the five hour walk off Pirongia in driving rain storm.
The hike would be easy if chicken-wire covered boardwalks lined the path the entire way.
The hike would be easy if chicken-wire covered boardwalks lined the path the entire way.
These roots were made for tripping.
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TA Day 31, Hakarimata to Hamilton – 28 km

These roots were made for tripping.
These roots were made for tripping.

I got a note from a follower named Tom who says, “You and your hiking odysseys personify today’s word.”

The word is ‘actuate’ (AK-choo-ayt) verb tr.: To put into motion or action; to activate; to motivate. [to hike]

The message goes on to quote poet Lauris Edmond.

“It’s true you can’t live here by chance, you have to do and be, not simply watch or even describe. This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb.” Edmond lived in Wellington, NZ, but any place can be your own headquarters of the verb. It has to be. There’s no other choice — life is not about being a spectator but a participator. To be. To do. Do be do!

Friend of a friend of a friend, Peter, holds up a manuka branch just before we enter the New Zealand bush.
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TA Day 5, Takahue Saddle Road to below Umaumakaroo – 16 km

Friend of a friend of a friend, Peter, holds up a manuka branch just before we enter the New Zealand bush.
Friend of a friend of a friend, Peter, holds up a manuka branch just before we enter the New Zealand bush.

What a delight to spend the evening at Peter’s overlooking Ahipara Bay. Wine under the olive trees, alicoop drying in between rain showers, pork belly dinner with a lovely Pinot Grigio, lots of conversation and finally singing for one another.

Northland is so damp, everyone needs a few pairs of Crocs.
Northland is so damp, everyone needs a few pairs of Crocs.
Before we set off, Peter took me to the massive Pak'nSav in Kaitaia to stock up for the next four days.
Before we set off, Peter took me to the massive Pak’nSav in Kaitaia to stock up for the next four days.

I’m hardly surprised he sets aside one of his ten pairs of crocks, laces up the boots and decides to join us for the first three k.

I cheat – a bit – and ‘betray the mission.’ We drive past green pastures, cows lining up to cross the street, and a Maori Marae, or meeting place, to the giant Pak’nSav in Kaitaia, then pick up Irene up a steep farm road. Fair is fair driving around the awful detour, but then we drive as far up the Takahue Saddle Road as possible before cracking up the track into the Raetea Forest past stunning Nikau Palm, Kahikatia, Remu, Manuka, and Black Trunk Fern with fiddleheads larger than a man’s fist. Peter comes a long way before kissing us goodbye as we turn up the ‘real’ track, directly into ankle-deep. shoe-disappearing mud.

But I love it.

My pictures hardly tell the story of the sweet pungency, the dappled light pulsing in a gentle breeze and the insistent, slightly obscene sucking on the trail. The Kiwis call it Bush. You and me might say jungle.

Reunited with Irene after the long beach walk, we prepare for New Zealand's famous mud.
Reunited with Irene after the long beach walk, we prepare for New Zealand’s famous mud.
There's no point in going around the mud.
There’s no point in going around the mud.

Thank goodness for the Lekis which save me from a muddy bum, though I walk with an animal gait, reaching forward to sort of crawl through.

Straight through is the best. You’ll get muddy anyway, so don’t bother balancing on slippy roots, just plunge right into the soft muck.

Irene reminds me of HikerB on the Border Route Trail nattering the entire way. I love that we’re sharing these days. Bonding over squishiness, rather refreshing squishiness to be honest, as the water inside my trail runners is cool.

Finally we’re at the Mangamuke Saddle. Slip-n-slide is all fun and games until you’re hauling up a fully re-supplied pack straight up-hill in it.

Orange triangles mark the trail through dense bush.
Orange triangles mark the trail through dense bush.
Deep, wet, and sticky, the mud made a sucking sound with every step.
Deep, wet, and sticky, the mud made a sucking sound with every step.
The tree fern canopy sheltered us from the hot sun.
The tree fern canopy sheltered us from the hot sun.

One minute cut off to the radio towers and a sunny meadow. Tomato soup + Hungarian salami + cheese = heaven.

Back on the mud path longing for 10 meters of joy and usually getting about two. The day is waning and camping by a river – and a chance to rinse – is a long way off.

The trail plays tricks on me. Blue sky opens up and a summit appears near, but the the orange triangles point down and around. I carry three liters of water in this clag as camping will likely happen near the summit and not out of the forest. No rinsing tonight.

One hundred feet of joy on dry trail.
One hundred feet of joy on dry trail.
Blissful hugs a Kauri covered in supplejack vines.
Blissful hugs a Rimu covered in supplejack vines.

As we get closer to what was purported to be a grassy spot big enough – and flat enough – for tents, Irene says, “It’s getting easier.” But next is the biggest turn-you-around-on-trail blow down, the deepest suck-off-your-shoe mud patch and the widest obscure-the-tripping-hazards giant ferns you’d ever seen.

I tell her I want my money back.

Kidding, of course, but this has got to be the hardest trail I’ve done. It’s the Vilcabamba and Torres del Paine and Pennines on steroids. It doesn’t get easier and my trail app ‘Guthook’ offers the helpful suggestion that the grassy flat spot is between kilometer mark 148 and 150. Considering we’re moving about 1 k/hour in some spots, that is a long distance to go not knowing.

Irene goes first on a sunny day in the Raetea Forest.
Irene goes first on a sunny day in the Raetea Forest.
Ferns and Manuka look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book.
Ferns and Manuka look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Of course we find it, a wide patch in the trail. Tents up fast. I use nearly every wipie to take the mud off my feet. Praise the goddess for my camp shoes! It’s cold and a Tui – and other birds exotic to my ears – pipe in the bush. All my clothes are on, and dinner is served.

One clear patch before we dive back into the bush, the sun already starting to go down.
One clear patch before we dive back into the bush, the sun already starting to go down.
Camping on the small grassy patch without water in the middle of the forest.
Camping on the small grassy patch without water in the middle of the forest.