Sunday, 2 November 2014

Day 2. Twilight Camp to forest camp just past The Bluff.

Today 28km. Total 40km. 10 hours (0820-1820)

I had an okay sleep with the normal first night in a sleeping bag always being restless.   I did get a visitor in the night though.  I could hear footsteps around me and thought an animal was trying to get in.  It sounded big and I thought it may have been a goat but I saw in the gap under my door it was a possum.  I made some noise and it left.  If it came back again it was quiet as it did not wake me and my stuff was in one piece in the morning.  It was surprisingly cold during the night and I had to fully zip up my sleeping bag.

I woke as the sun hit my tent at 0730 and at a leisurely morning pack up I was on my way at 0830.  The first part was through scrub following a Ridge.

Looking back at the Ridge line the track followed

There we a few boggy bits

There were heaps of Paradise Ducks all trying their best to lead me away from their nests.  I counted 6 pairs.  There were a few steep hills in the track which have me a good reminder of my lack of fitness but the view from the top was worth it.  The first view of 90 Mile Beach.
Looking over the start of 90 Mile Beach

Looking back at all the stairs on the descent to the beach

 I know I will be sick of the sight of this beach shortly but it was great to see it for the first time.  I took a few photos with my homemade camera attachment on my trekking pole before going down lots of steps to get down to the beach.

The wind on the beach was cold so i had to put my jacket on.  Once on the beach I tried to get into a rhythm but found it hard to keep my pace easy and my steps short to try and prevent sore shins as I often get.  I also tried a new technique of loosening to my shoe laces. This seemed to work as I only got occasional twinges which disappeared after stretching.  I did a lot of stretching.  Anytime one part of my leg would stay hurting I would stretch and it would get better.  At Te Paki steam I took off my shoes as I wanted to keep my feet dry.  A tour bus drove up to the steam and entered it just as I was crossing and I got a few waves.  It was then more beach walking with the excitement being the streams.  As I approach each steam I am trying to work out if it is crossable without having to take my shoes off. Even when it is obvious it is to deep I still dither trying to find a way.

At one point there was a big expanse to cross.  As at was high tide I had to take my shoes of and walk quite a way.  At the far end was a River and I could see the waves were starting to go upstream a little but were still at the River mouth so it was only shin deep.  Just as I reached the far side a massive wave came surging up the river so I scrambled up the bank.  When I turned around the whole area I had crossed was now under water.
The bay I had to cross

A bird desperately trying to lead me away from its nest but it didn't matter which way I went it didn't seem happy

Bare feet crossing

The Bay just moments after I make it up the bank

 I then sat down on the bank and started the ritual of carefully drying my feet which involved removing all the sand from my feet,  socks and shoes before applying some anti chafe cream, then putting on my Gaiters,  socks and shoes.  I was just up to the removing sand part when I looked up and saw a wall of water busting over the river bank and coming straight for me.  In a flurry I grabbed every thing and climbed as high up the nearby cliff as I could.  When the waste receded I decided to stay in bare feet until I could find a safer place much higher up to put my shoes back on.

As the tide was so high I found myself scrambling frequently up the cliff to avoid incoming waves for the next few hundred meters until the beach widened more.  Even then I was nearly caught several times as there would be a random wave that would come so much further in than the rest.  The closest time was when I was taking photos and looked up to see the wave coming rapidly.  It was then a mad sprint (really a brisk shuffle with a pack on and tired legs) to get clear.

Not much beach left at high tide

One of the main reasons I didn't want to get caught was the waves had a horrible Green foam in them.  The must be an algae bloom that has been pushed in with the strong winds though the waves further out we're clean.  This left big lines of geen slime and foam all along the beach.

The Green slime

Compete with bubbles

Matapia Island was visible from the start of the beach but it was like an optical illusion and never got closerand never got bigger.  I found the beach distorted things and things further away seemed bigger in the distance than they were.  Several times I was sure I could see a couple of people ahead only for them to be birds when I got closer.  The Island has a hole through it which you couldn't see as you came along beside it.

Once I was opposite the Island I had lunch.  It was tortilla with cheese,  Salami and Sundried Tomatoes. I am guessing from the reaction of the seagulls they have either visited populated areas or get lots of tourists as the was one in sight when I sat down for lunch and 20 by the time I finished. It was now warning up and I was able to take my jacket off.

Nice spot for lunch looking at Matapia Island

Because the tide was high I am sure I walked a lot further than the TA map says I did as I had to go in and out of every little bay as I had to hug the cost to get away from the waves.  I laughed when I saw a car coming towards me trying to stay on the narrow bit of beach left.  I hoped they were locals who knew what they were doing as the bit they were about to drive on was very narrow.  As they did not stop to talk I couldn't check on this.

There was not much of interest blown up on the beach but I did find a float that I amused myself with by creating goalposts with my walking poles to kick through.

A little impromptu soccer with a float

Apart from that there was beach, more beach, and even more beach.  I was very glad to see The Bluff as I was really looking forward to stopping.  In the bus on the way North I had seen a camp on the south side of the Bluff but when I looked at it it didn't appeal so I walked up the beach a bit more to a stream which I walked up 50 metres to the forest where I set up camp.

Looking up the river to my campsite in the trees on the right

Night 2

Much quicker tonight.  Dinner was potato flakes with surprise peas,  parsley,  garlic powder,  onion flakes and bacon bits.  Very nice and filling. Still no blisters or injuries and the old body seems to be forgiving me for this punishment I am putting it through. I went to sleep with the soothing sound of the waves crashing onto the beach.

Hints of the day-
1. The track continues through Twilight Camp heading away from the sea following the orange market posts. It quickly swings to the right and you are on your way.
2. Don't underestimate the waves.  They will randomly come faster than normal and huge than normal.

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