I had a terrible sleep with all the noise last night. The worst was a noise of the rats but for some reason I was picturing they had dragged a bird out of its nest and were attacking it. I was fighting a mental battle to go outside and rescue it but realised the noise was not one a bird would actually make so it must be the rats.
It also started raining in the night which was really loud on the tin roof.
I was awake really early but lay there for a while before finally getting up. I woke Fredrico but there is no way to avoid it in such a small hut and my stove is noisy.
I left the hut ready for the rain in jacket and rain skirt. In 15 minutes I was back at the track junction and then was on my way, and already was too hot. In the rain it is always a compromise between getting wet from the rain or sweat.
This morning it was a 7 km walk to Mt Weraroa which went really quickly (2 hours) and then back down the SE side to a trail junction. The downhill was slippery with the rain and I nearly did a bum slide but ended up getting very friendly with a Ponga tree and using my core strength to try and keep my body up to stop getting mud all over my all dry shorts. I managed but only just.
The downhill was over quickly and then it was relatively flat. Most of the track was good but the trail then went through a boggy patch for a while before returning to a good track. I reached the junction 1 hour 20 after leaving the top of the mountain.
Just short of the junction I met two people coming towards me. They were absolutely doing TA and despite heading north were SOBO. She had hurt her knee near Huntly so they had gone ahead to do the Wanganui River to give it time to heal and they were now walking the trail back up to Huntly. They have some advice on working the tricky tap at a hut upcoming and mentioned there was a couple just ahead.
From the junction it was then onto a great track to the Waihaha. The were a few steam crossings but they were either able to be jumped or had a fallen tree as a bridge or rocks that could be jumped on.
There was one section of really steep ups and downs where I had to use trees and roots to lower myself or pull myself up.
There was a fantastic account of birdlife today and I saw Kaka, robin, tomtit and red crowned Kakariki on top of the normal birds. I also saw a deer.
I was wondering if I would catch the couple but after a couple of hours realised they were the same speed or faster than me and I would not see them.
About 15 minutes before reaching the Hut I gave myself a fright. I was walking on a flattish bit when I rolled my right ankle and as I was falling managed to wrench my left knee. I lay on my back thinking how was I going to get anywhere with both legs injured. I took off my pack and gingerly stood up to assess the damage. There was no pain on either leg, not even the slightest twinge. I was relieved and felt slightly silly for my reaction but also a little shaken as it wasa good reminder hoe easy it is to hurt myself.
When I arrived at the hut there was stuff hung up everywhere and I met Phil and Angie who were from England. They had camped last night at a great campsite 15 minutes short of the junction and had got very wet from the rain and were trying to dry their great a little. Phil had their tent drying outside and though there were more fine spells and the sun was breaking through there was a shower every couple minutes so the tent was not getting any drier.
I devoured my lunch of Tortilla, hummus, cheese and Salami. By this time the showers were stopping so I set off without my rain gear. The sign said 7 hours to make the 12 km to the next Hut and it was 1440 so I knew I would have to push the pace a bit too make it before it got dark.
Luckily the trail was fantastic and I could make good speed. The track followed the river and there were a couple of side streams to cross and they all had bridges of some sort. After crossing a big one I noticed there were no more orange markers, just the old white ones. After my lady experience following white markers wrongly I turned back and bumped into Phil and Angie. They said the couple heading north had warned then about this and this was still the correct trail.
Relieved I turned back around and headed off. It was strange having people right behind me and they were keeping a similar pace so any time I slowed for an obstacle they were right there. It wasn't until the track left the river and started climbing onto the ridge that I pulled ahead. Frustratingly I had just finished my water bottle and thought to myself 'fill this up at the next stream' when we started heading away from the stream. I wasn't too concerned as I still had one bottle nearly full and wasn't drinking much anyway.
After a little time on the ridge I celebrated the 1000 km mark. I had just finished building the sign when the coups caught up so they took a photo. I tried for a jumping shot but could barely jump 10 cm.
As we finished it started raining and this did not seem like a shower so I put my rain great on again. It then started raining really hard so I took off at a fast pace. It was raining so hard the water was streaming down my face inside the front of my jacket even though I have a good peak in the jacket. Also the trail deteriorated and there was a lot of fallen trees to scramble over and my shorts were getting wet from these so I was quickly soaked. I didn't actually mind as I knew I was heading to a hut where I would be able to dry out and as long as I was moving I was warm Phil and Angie are sticking with me and we were flying down the track. After an hour and a half I had to stop to get a snack and then Phil took the lead. It was actually relaxing being at the back not constantly looking for the markers. Later he changed lead with Angie and near the end I went back in front. The rain changed from heavy to really heavy for periods of time just for some variety. With less than 30 minutes to go the rain stopped.
We reached the Hauhungaroa Hut 4 hours 40 minutes after leaving Waihaha Hut.
After changing into dry clothes I cooked dinner and we didn't the night talking. Phil and Angie have done a lot of long distance hiking and right before starting TA they had done the Pacific Crest Trail in USA and a trail in Canada. No wonder they are so fast.
It was nice and warm in the Hut and shortly after it got dark we went to sleep.