Date: 6 December
Trail covered: 18km (kms 1514.8 to 1532.8)
Weather: just peachy
I woke up this morning and the time was 8am! That’s a late sleep in for me. There were no possums or rats or mice to keep me awake so I slept right through the night. This shelter is definitely a nice place so sleep.
I did have to put on a wet shirt though, nothing that I hung up got dry at all.
The other four didn’t turn up during the evening, which didn’t surprise me. There’s no mobile coverage here so I can only assume that they stayed at the previous shelter (Motu Rimu shelter) which was 4 or 5 hours before here. Either that or they camped somewhere in the bush, but they’re not the sort of group to pass up a night in a shelter so I have to assume they’re 4 or 5 hours behind.
So I took my time departing, because I only have 18km to walk today. The plan is to go to the Matahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre to at least check the weather and wait for the others. Apparently they’re very hiker friendly and will let you put up a tent for free, so it sounds like a good place to spend the night. I have sore legs from yesterday which doesn’t happen often so a short day sounds good. Even more so when there’s a possibility we will be starting the ascent up the Tararua Ranges tomorrow.
The car park referred to in yesterday’s signage was just a few minutes walk from the shelter. I met a big group of hikers who were all setting out down Burttons Track, the path I came down yesterday. When I said I’d stayed in the shelter, one of them scoffed and said “can’t be a legitimate shelter, surely” which meant he obviously hadn’t seen the shelter before. I’m sure he’s in for a surprise.
There was also a dam nearby. I read that people had been camping here before the shelter was in place.
And the Tararua Ranges have now officially started!
Not long after the sign you turn into this conspicuous little pathway…
And encounter this information.
That sign just talked about being respectful when crossing private farmland. This sign up the hill a bit was more informational:
It was a nicely maintained path at first. Here’s my 11am picture, crossing the Blackwood Stream.
My back hurt all morning though, pretty much from the time I set out. Normally the pain only lasts a few kilometers but it lasted a lot longer this morning. And my legs were sore. At least it’s a short day. I don’t think I could have managed both the walk between the two huts from yesterday and this walk too, if I had to do them both today, like the other guys probably are.
The sun poked its head through every now and again in the morning, but it wasn’t enough to dry my clothes that I had on.
The path started to get muddy as well.
While I was walking I started to think of a rating system for mud. On a scale of 1 (dry as a bone) to 10 (dry as Wellington in July), I gave this mud 5 (mildly inconvenient) initially.
It started to get muddier, so I raised the rating to 6 (grrrrr).
Then, when the dipsticks/walking poles showed mud up to here, I raised the rating to 7 (you’ll lose your shoe if it’s not tied on properly).
The Horowhenua Lookout gave me a chance to stop for a second, as was mobile phone coverage here. No message from the boys though.
There is 400 metres or so of downhill from here. There’s not a lot of mud on the downhill but yet I still managed to slip right over onto my butt at one point. Yep I definitely need to get some new boots at the first opportunity.
There were lots of stream walks after the downhill section. Crossing streams and walking down streams, and it wasn’t always obvious where the markers were.
Then, the farmland.
At least all the grey had cleared a bit.
Right on cue was the Outdoor Pursuits Centre.
There is a nice little building which looked quite new, containing a hot shower that runs on gas and a composting toilet. TA hikers are allowed to camp here for just a donation.
I turned up at 3:30pm, Alex turned up at 6pm and then the other three weren’t far behind. Some of them looked exhausted. Seems they too thought that both the Burttons Track and the Makahika Track were a lot to do in one day. I was glad at this point that my big day was yesterday and I could have a relaxing evening tonight.
The owner of the centre, John, brought a Corona for each of us, which was really nice. He also helped us understand the weather forecast. Based on an earlier forecast I saw, I had planned to go up to the Te Matawai Hut tomorrow and wait out some bad weather that was forecast for the next day there. But it appears now that on Monday (the next day) it’s forecast to still be raining and also the temperature may drop to freezing so we all decided to spend the next two days in Levin and head up either Monday or Tuesday.
We have enough food but decided two days in a hut in rain and cold would get boring. John said he would take us to Levin tomorrow, since the campsite is about 12km from Levin and Levin is not actually on the trail.
I also learned that the other four did stay at the Motu Rimu shelter but they couldn’t actually sleep inside the shelter because the group of six hikers I saw going the other way had taken over the shelter first, and apparently they weren’t very considerate. So the guys had to set up their tents outside.
It dawned me that I walked further on my day through Palmerston North two days ago than I did today, and that was originally going to be a rest day. But today was definitely harder. Plus I’m resting all weekend in Levin it seems, which the more I think about it, is good. My back is still hurting a bit and I’m getting a bit worried about it, and plus I can get some more chocolate and some crackers to go with my cheese.
Oh, I almost forgot. My thighs that got sunburnt on the Whanganui River are really starting to peel now. I took a picture… though if you want to see it you’ll have to click here!
Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):