Friday, 28 November 2014

Day 28. Mangatawhiri Swingbridge to Te Kauwhata Pumphouse.

Today 35.5 km. Total 729.5 km. 10 hours 45 minutes.  (0730-1815).

Last night was hot for the first time. I kept the tent flap open until I heard some rain sometime during the night.
I left at 0730, back into my normal routine. It was a quick 30 minutes on a nice track through the bush to the road end and then 5 km of road walking which I didn't mind as it was nice to stretch the legs and look around without having to worry about where my feet were going.  It was the time of the morning when the farmers were feeding the calves so it was interesting to watch as I plodded along. There were also a lot of birds about and I was able to get close to a couple of Rosellas which were feeding on the road.

Lovely track on short bush section

Large orange marker leading back into the trees


These guys don't look too nervous

The weather was the same low cloud and occasional misting rain as yesterday.  It got heavier for 10 minutes so out came the umbrella. It was also still really muggy and I was sweating continuously and really thirsty. This continued all day and got worse when the sun came out for a couple of hours.

After an hour I was at the highway but due to rerouting I was only on the highway for a couple of hundred meters before crossing under the bridge and up onto the stopbank which I followed for the next 6.5 km. I really enjoyed this part. The track was generally good though the grass was long in places.  There was a constant racket from both sides of the stopbank from birds,  crickets,  frogs,  ducks and geese.

Occasional obstacles on the stopbank

And sometimes long grass

My feet were soaked from the wet grass and my new shoes inner soles apparently do not do well in the water.  After 3 km of wet feet one started to scrunch up causing ridges under my feet which is very uncomfortable.  I tried putting my orthotics in but these shoes are already very supportive
 and the orthotic was uncomfortable after a while. I tried squeezing all the water out of my socks and the inner sole but this would only last a couple of minutes and they would scrunch again.  After another km the other one started doing the same thing. It was so frustrating.  Eventually I just took the inner soles out as this was the best I could do.

First the left
Then the right. Not very comfortable when my innersole started creasing forming lumps under my foot

At the end of the stopbank there was a 1.5 km gravel road walk and then single track through some trees and under the motorway bridge to get across the other side of the motorway.  The neat little track then continued to Mercer. For some reason I thought there was a subway there and I had been thinking about what type of sandwich I was going to have. Unfortunately no subway so I had to make do with McDonald's instead.  After that I bought a fruit drink and Ice cream to help me on my way.

I crossed over the motorway and headed up a steep hill which changed from road to farmland and the track the followed parallel to the motorway going up and down some steep little hills.  In this area there were heaps of Skinks. I was afraid I was going to step on one.  A couple of times I nearly did but fortunately most of them had the sense to go off the track when they heard me coming.

Down and up

Views of the Waikato River

No complaints about lack of verge

The track ended at the site of an old British fort from the Waikato Wars. Then down the hill and over the railway line and under the motorway.  For a short time there was a nice track through the trees but then it was walking on the grass beside the road to Meremere. Last time I was there it was still single lane and the old power station was there. Now it is a motorway and the power station is something else.

Shortly after there was a small bridge and that was the start of the river trail. It was now 11.5 km along the river by farmland,  stopbank, trees and the occasional gorse patch.  The track was generally good but there were a couple of not so good patches but even they were ok. In preparation for camping I filtered some water from the river though I was all a little dubious about drinking this as the Waikato River has a bad reputation for waste quality however I put my trust in my Sawyer Water Filter.

The stopbank

Spooky ruins


You are never alone on this walk as birds are a constant presence

The misty rain returned which was not heavy enough for a jacket but got the grass wet again and my inner soles started scrunching again. Lucky my campsite was in sight when they did this so I just put up with it for a couple of minutes.

I set up my tent under some trees for protection from the wind and rain and finished off my night routine.  As I was thirsty from the humid day I had a cup of tea before my soup and dinner was Mexican Chicken Freeze Dri.  Desert was just a lollie tonight. The final sounds of the night was the wind ripping through the trees but I was nice and sheltered where I was.

The trees on the left is where I plan to camp

Night 28

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