I was woken this morning by a very loud and varied dawn chorus at 0615 this morning which was very of nice but slightly earlier than I planned. I left camp at 0730 and had a road walk in the rain start for 5 km then onto an old road heading up to the saddle where the bush track started.
I filled up with water at the bottom as I had heard there was no water up top only to be crossing streams nearly all the way up the hill. I guess it is better to be sure and it was only 2 kg extra. On the way up I scared a big wild pig who thankfully ran away. There were some other unexpected sights too.
Once on the bush track it is clear this is a very different track than Herekino yesterday. Much rougher, more climbing and lots more roots. This made it fun in a challenging way. The first climb up to 580 metres was almost harder than the 744 meter climb as it was consistently step. The other climb was not as step but took ages as there were so many false summits.
As I stopped for a break at 580 I realised I was under observation by the enemy - a Possum. I had dropped a nut from my Scroggin but seeing the possum picked it up, wiped it and ate it as I was not going to let the possum have any thing mine. All I could do was yell at it to hope it had a heart attack. For non NZers possums are devastating our native birds and forests and millions is spent a year to get rid of them.
There was one patch of about 20 minutes where I got sick of the roots and bogs but a Fantail (cute little bird that often follows trampers) arrived and I felt better. There were also heaps of Wood pigeon which often gave me a fright a they burst out of the trees.
I was making good time until the descent started. The track dropped off the ridge and didn't seem a well travelled track. It also got really boggy. I had been thinking that today wasn't as boggy as yesterday and the roots were actually helpful to get over them. However the descent was very boggy, very steep and very slippery and I took my time to avoid falling over.
I then emerged onto a Farm track which was to take me all the way down and I thought great this will be a nice easy descent. This lasted until I came around the corner and the tracks true nature was exposed - bog. From then it was a long slog through the continuous bog which went on and on and on. The worst thing is the track was not dropping. It was continuous down and up so we were staying at the same level. After 90 minutes it finally started going down - straight down. The bulk of the descent was done in 15 minutes then there was more bog.
I was well and truly over the bog by now and it was with great relief that I finally came out into the farmland for the final descent.
I stopped at the first Creek and gave every thing a good wash. It is amazing how much mud I was carrying around in my shoes. The Velcro sticking my Gaiter to the back of my shoe was victim to the fearsome Raetea Forest. In 10 minutes I was at the end of the track.
The Raetea Track took me 7 hours and 55 minutes. The DOC time was 8 hours.
I walked another 1 km then set up camp in the forest beside the road.
I was pretty tired as all of today was a hard long slog. However lack of fitness didn't seem to be a big a factor. I had to stop a couple of times climbing the hills but felt good otherwise with lots of energy. I am happy that my skills moving through the bush are still there.
Dinner tonight was a 3 course affair of soup, curry Noodles and instant Butterscotch pudding which set perfectly. I had laksa curry today and did not like it as much as the red Curry.
Hints of the day.
1. There was a nice campspot just before the climb to 744.
2. There are several streams by the road leading up to the track start. They stop about 1 km from the top. After a dry spell some may not be there anymore more.
3. When going down hill look for the irregularities in the ground and put your feet on these which will stop you slipping.
4. Accept the wet and mud. Don't try to keep your feet dry or clean on standard NZ tramping tracks. Just keep your shoes on and accept you will frequently have wet feet. For these Northland tracks accept the mud. You will save heaps of time going through the bogs rather than trying to go around them, which also causes damage to the tracks as they keep getting wider as people trample the vegetation on the edges.