After a great sleep I packed and made my way to the Bakery for a Bacon and Egg Pie and a coffee. I ate this at the Shearer Statue and at 0715 was on my way.
A 1 km road walk led to the first river trail which was a fair trail between the industrial area of Te Kuiti and the river. It was lovely but stange to have the birds and heavy machinery competing.
The trail crossed a vehicle Bridge and then the markers stopped and I was confronted with three tracks to choose from. The trail notes were not clear but did mention a climb after the quarry. Two tracks went up and the one to the right was flat so I took that one and after the quarry it started going up and there was a marker so I made the right decision.
The trail then turned sharply and headed downhill on a grassy track. The grass was covered in dew and my shoes and socks were quickly soaked. At the stile there were 3 fence battons that had been painted bright colours and had little poems on them. The rest of the marker posts along the trail were also decorated and it looked like a school project. This trail switched between grass and lovely bush along a river. While the grass was a little long with spring growth The bush trail was in great condition and lovely to move on.
After 10 minutes of this I saw a reserve over the other side of the riverand then came to a Swingbridge. The were no TA makers and I read my notes a couple of times before crossing over. The trail notes said not to cross the Swingbridge but they seemed to be written with section hiker in mind who start at the car park. There were several camper vans parked up but no one was up yet. The was a great information board telling about the trees and birds on the Reserve and the history of the place. I really like this type of board.
At the end of the car park the trail started. This trail in the Mangaokewa Reserve is awarded my Favourite Trail Award. It was great. It was a nice condition track that was dry and that had a few grassy patches which let you see the bush from a different perspective. There were heaps of birds, more than most of the other places I have been. If you stood still and watched they were everywhere flitting around. The trail was largely flat until the end when it climbed up to the stile and I emerged onto the farmland.
The trail headed back down to the river and I saw a Swingbridge with a TA arrow on it. I guess you don't need to cross the Swingbridge at the reserve then. Here also was a sign saying TA Trail 15 km.
From here we followed the river through mixture of farmland and different types of bush. The was a little climbing but not as much as usual for a river trail. The was also some sidling around the hill which is always good for an adrenalin hit when there is a little exposure below. I really enjoyed the first 3 hours then it seemed to drag a bit and there was an increase in swampy areas to cross which meant mud in the shoes again. Also at the 3 hour mark my blister taping came lose so I took it off.
Near the end the track joined onto an old forestry road and I wanted to clear the mud out of my shoes but the track was too high over the river. Once I was back into the farmland I tried to access the river several times but the banks were too steep. After 4 hours 15 minutes I finished the trail and was on a gravel road. 10 minutes later I found a culvert that I could get down to the steam and I washed my shoes and socks. While everything dried out a bit I had lunch. Tortilla, hummus, cheese and Salami. I retaped my blister and was on my way.
The road was uneventful. There was a long sustained climb then ups and down with mainly farmland to look at.
At 40 km for the day while on a long downhill my right calf decided it wasn't happy. It became really tight and stretching it didn't help. I slowed down my pace and on downhills tried not to use it. Funny after so long without a niggle I now get one randomly.
When I started to think about a campsite there were not many choices as it is all open farmland. Luckily I came across a row of trees and was able to clear a space from the blackberry bushes (earning several scratches from my efforts) for my tent. I am right beside the road but up a big bank and hidden behind a small wall of dirt. I almost feel like I am in a military defensive position. It is cold again.
Answer : Ponga seedling