Today is an easy day so I slept in and wandered to the store for breakfast. I left at 0915 after a lovely steak and cheese pie with chocolate milk.
I have heard a lot about how bad this section is in blogs and Facebook posts. The general comments are poorly marked and badly overgrown with constant battles with Gorse. I must admit I am now confused by these warnings and wonder if it is the same track we were on because I absolutely loved today. I found the marking to generally be very good and i only got my map out once. The was really only one 300 metre stretch which was a little overgrown, but still easy to move through, there were no other vegetation issues. Maybe my positive experience was helped by a lovely day with perfect visibly and I was in a good mood but in my opinion today is a great and interesting trail with a lot of variety and almost no roads.
The trail started with 1.3 km walk to the start of the farm track. This farm track was just over 1 km down a hill and across some flats. It was then uphill on a handmade track through the scrub. Whoever made the track deserves a beer as it would have been hard work cutting the track through the scrub and gorse into the side of a hill and they did a great job. That little scrub was fun and it actually swichbacked up the hill which is something overseas trampers find strange we don't normally do this.
It was then less than 50 metres on the ridge before following a fence line down the hill. There was a patch of around 40 metres which was a little overgrown but it was largely Manuka over it and it was easy to move through. The track then cut into the bush for the rest of the way down. It was steep and I needed to pay close attention to the trail makers as the goats have made lots of nice trails in that area. The were several times I had to use the 'looking back at the marker to see which way it should be seen from' technique.
It was then onto farmland to cross some flats and then back into the bush to climb the next hill to the ridgeline and then follow the ridgeline along. When the ridge turned East there was a section of a few hundred metres where the Manuka and gorse were over the trail. The trail itself was still clear on the ground and I found I didn't have to force my way through with any effort and maintained good speed. All I did was put my poles infront of my face and walk through it (those without poles will not find this as easy). Luckily the gorse is young and at this time of year if it's still soft so bruising past sites not hurt. The last 50 meters had some gorse which has come down so you had to step over it and there were a couple of older gorse bushes. A good indication of it not being too bad is I come through with no blood which given how easily I get scratched means it is not bad. That was the last overgrown but of the trail through I keep waiting for the bad bits given what had been said about the trail.
The trail then was onto farmland and down a small ridge. The views going down here was amazing and I stopped and took a break to eat my double chocolate fudge Brownie I brought this morning. For some reason I felt like yelling and I was feeling really exuberant. I was tempted to start skipping I felt so good but I figured it would be really embarrassing saying that is how I twisted my ankle so I restrained myself.
At the bottom was a quick drag down some farm races and then over a swingbridge into a protected stand of Kahikatea Trees on a raised gravel path which was lovely. Then was back into farmland and up to a ridge which I followed for a while.
Just before the road crossing (Oparure rd) I came across what must have been a trail marker joke. The trail slightly drifted to the left of the farm track to go over two little hills. It made me crack up as I went up and over looking down at the more direct and flatter track.
Once across the road it was up again to the ridge line and then down the other side and with a slight change in direction up again. I knew it would not be a flat day with this being King Country and it is definitely not. Thank goodness for trail fitness.
Once at the top and on my way down again was the first time the trail makers were not clear. I crossed a style and headed in the direction of the triangle (orange triangles we follow are isosceles triangles and can be pointed in the direction of the trail) but there was no real track to follow as the grass had been recently cut for hay. There were tracks heading down and along the hill. I was tempted to try the down track given the days theme of up and down but the arrow had pointed along the hill so I kept going in that direction and over the brow of the hill was a stile and I was back on track. I was now on a formed farm track all the way up to an airstrip, stopping quickly to mark 900 km.
There was then a steep down to cross a road and then steep up to the next ridgeline and then another big climb to the highest point around at 263 metres. Strangely the trail stopped 30 metres from the high point so I did a detour to touch the trig before following the trail down into the forest on nice tracks all the way to Te Kuiti.
I headed to the campground and got a cabin so I would have room to spread out and prepare for the next leg.
I went straight to the DOC office to get my Hut Pass and then lunch and shopping for food.
The rest of the day was eating and resting. Dinner was Chinese takeaways.
Answer : Moss on fence stile