Friday, 14 November 2014

Day 16. Patua to Marsden-ish (TA km 396.4).

Today 31 km. Total 396.4 (+10). 10 1/2 hours (0630-1700).

I woke early today about 15 minutes before my alarm went off.  Looking out the tent it looked like a nice day.  I started getting ready and didn't heat water for my normal breakfast of Complan and milk powder thinking this would save time but it still took the same amount of time.  I was just finishing packing my tent when Patrick appeared.  He has left the other 3 who he has been with some the beach to pick up the pace.  He did a massive 43 km yesterday and arrived only an hour before I did at the campground.

We walked together and it was nice having someone to talk to.  First there was a short 2 km on the road then we walked on the mudflats for 2 1/2 km.

This stayed out okay with the mud not to bad though we did have to cross a steam to get to firmer ground then we had a slightly larger stream that only came to mid shin. After that the mud got a bit deeper until we made it to the exit point.

Early morning start

Patrick walking through the mud

Mud yet to be walked

Nearly there

Muddy shoes and no where to wash them

Unfortunately there was no stream to wash off our shoes and I could feel an accumulation of mud inside.  Luckily after a km I found a manky looking creek which did a good enough job to get the worst of the mud off.

It was then a steady climb up a gravel road.  Interestingly after the sign that said "Council maintenance ends here" the road turned into seal.  Not long after this a lady pulled her car over and offered us a lift as she could see it was going to rain.  When we declined she offered her house to shelter in of it did rain which was nice.  The gradient then increased and we left the seal for a grass and then bush track to reach the summit. There were fanatic views including the beach we were about to walk. The descent was easy as there were steps for the steep bits.

Double rainbow on the way up

From the top of Kauri Mountain looking at the beaches we are about to walk and that mountain which we climb on the left and follow the ridge going down on the right.

It was then a quick 2 km down to the beach which went really quickly,  I think because of being distracted by conversation. There was a really steep entry onto the beach and just as we started descenting this it started to rain and then hail but only for a short time and then the sun came out again.  This was to continue for much of the morning.

The rain that missed us, the rest were on target

More beach to walk


At the first river we stopped for another wash of the shoes and I had to walk a little way to disappear into a bush to go to the toilet,  the first time in ages I had to worry about privacy. Just as we were ready to go the dark clouds came quickly. I was just going to put up with the wet knowing the shower would not last long  however the wind picked up and the rain started and it was really cold so i scrambled to put my jacket on with Patrick providing shelter best he could with his body.  It then rained heavily for a short time but the wind stayed strong and there were some vicious gusts that drove the sand into us with force and it was like sandpaper on my skin.  This wind continued to randomly blast us with sand.

On the beach the tide was coming in and to get firm sand we had to walk on a steep angle which was a little awkward but better than the soft sand. Unfortunately even that ran out and we had to walk on the soft sand which was hard work.  It made me realise how lucky we were to have firm sand on 90 Mile Beach.  The first bit of beach was 5 km then we went through a small rocky bit then another km and a half of beach before a steep climb over a little peninsular and down a dune before the final 600 meters of beach.

Patrick coming down the dune

We could see the steep climb ahead and I foolishly said I would be taking my jacket off regardless of the rain as it was going to be hot work going up that hill. Less than a minute later it started bucketing down and the sandpaper winds near continuous.  It was a relief to be away from the sand and start climbing and of course the rain now stopped.

I was climbing strongly up the nice grass path and started leaving Patrick behind,  probably due to his 43 km yesterday and his large pack.  The views were fantastic as we were climbing and we could see all of the beaches we had walked already.

Starting the climb in the wet

Looking down at the beaches we walked

I decided not to wait for Patrick as he was intending a shorter day than me and I wanted to make good time. I took my jacket off at the bush line as the sun was out again and the bush would protect me from the cold wind.  The track continued up steeply and narrowed to a rooty and rocky path. Randomly stairs would appear for stretches which were nice to start then annoying as it was harder to use poles meaning the legs were doing all the work.

Stairs on the way up. Loved and hated them at the same time

The alternate to stairs was roots

The up seemed to go on and on. I was getting really tired and was having to rest more and more.  I came to an unmarked track junction and I looked at the left one and followed for 10 meters before determining it woud not swing around to the right direction. The straight option was over a huge boulder that I did not feel comfortable doing.  To the rightand back down the stairs a little was what looked like a disused track but it was going in the right direction so I followed it and eventually saw the orange marker. However not long after it started heading steeply down hill and I checked and rechecked my map and couldn't see any descents.  I hadn't seen a junction so I persevered and eventually it started heading back up to the ridge.  It must have been impressive peak for the track to actually go around rather than over.

It wasn't a boring track

After what felt like ages I arrived at a junction and saw where I was on the map. Da dum went my heart when I realised how little ground I had covered. I was sure I had gone much further. The good news is the track turned 5 star and I thought great now I will make up some time. Unfortunately this dream track only lasted until the junction with Peach Cove 5 minutes later and then turned back to a normal track though better than the earlier one. The track now went up and down continuously for the next 90 minutes. I kept thinking there could not be any more hills but there was. I was really tired by this stage and finding this walk very physical. This is the most physically tired I have been on this journey. The one bright note was seeing a Kaka which is a large Brown parrot which is fairly rare in the north.

Looking back over what I had climbed

There is a Kaka on this photo but it is very hard to see

Finally there were no more hills and down I went,  straight down by stairs which was very tiring on the knees and thighs. Finally at the bottom it was a short walk through farm land to Urquharts Bay. The was a lovely toilet that I would have been comfortable sleeping in and they had a 3 nozzle drinking fountain that I was thankful to see as I had run out of water.

Great mailbox in Urquharts Bay

I was hoping to get a ride across the channel here but the town was deserted.  I finally found one local and asked about getting across to Marden but she said it was too rough because of the high winds and no one was gong on the water and this would continue for the next few days.

I decided to walk another 3 km to the shop to see if they had anything different to say.  The guy said I needed to go another 10 km to where the fishing boats left from.  I asked of he knew anyone with working at the refinery and he didn't.  Luckily another guy overheard this and told me when the Marsden workers left from so I went to Reatahi Bay and waited for one of the workers as they came back from work and arranged a ride for the morning.

I then went back up the track to the reserve and found a great stealth camp spot.

Night 16

After seeing up camp I went to the toilets to wash the mud and sand out of my shoes and socks before selling in for the night.  Dinner was chicken soup,  mashed potatoes and chocolate fudge and coconut instant pudding

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