Day 26. 24 km. 9 November. Mangawhai to Pakiri. Easy day
We are getting fitter and stronger so days are feeling easier. Our bodies are used to the weight of our packs even though we started the day with a full 6 days of food. My food bag included 7 protein bars which are very dense and heavy so must be eaten whether I like it or not. We are both not enjoying our porridge for breakfast and looking for alternatives but we need to eat what we have got before buying anything else.
However we are now feeling hungry and eating more than when we started. The continual long, hard days require more food as we use up our stores of fat and build muscles. My aim was to lose the wobbly bits I had developed over the last few years and I am well on the way to achieving this.
The day started with a track over farmland passing some flash looking houses.Then we had a really enjoyable beach walk all the way to Pakiri. It was overcast, quite flat and lowish tide so we had hard packed sand all day. Maybe the beach walks aren’t so bad after all.
Most of the sandhills were fenced off to protect some birds that nest there so we respected their space. We played leapfrog with other hikers all day and all met up at the campground that afternoon.
I really enjoyed the company; some old friends and some new ones. One Aussie lad had news that bushfires had meant his parents had to evacuate their home so we all supported him through that. All his belongings were stored in a container that melted in the ferocious fire. I really felt for him and he welcomed a cuddle from me. Our Trail Family is important.
We had heard that the local Cricket Club opened the bar on Saturday nights so we all headed over for a beer only to find none there. Everyone was disappointed but headed back for a game of table tennis instead. Then we a crawled into our tents fir another early night. 8 pm is a late night for us and sometimes we are in bed by 6.30pm.
Day 27. 10 November. Pakariki to Tamahunga Ecological Area
We left early heading up into the ranges that were covered in fog. By the time we were at the top we needed to put on raincoats to protect us from the cold wind. We were on farm tracks which became very slippery as we descended. The track needed some repairs and maintenance because the huge cattle had been using it. The result was broken steps and very smelly mud.
We only walked 11km but it took 6 hours of concentration.
We arrived at our Trail Angels eventually and joined in with the rest of of TA family putting up tents, making our dinners then joining the family inside for beers. What a lovely family they were, another example of trail angels who have been giving shelter to walkers for a few years now. Their kids are involved in looking after us, handing out beers, coffee, and cooking home laid eggs for our breakfast. Our $20 koha (donation) is used to pay for the kids riding lessons.
My neighbours for the night were the chickens and a rooster who woke us at 4.4am.
We both had a tumble and I now have a good coloured bruise on my upper leg to prove it.
We left the next morning but Frances had unexplained sore ankle. So we had a slow and quiet walk through nice bush but with lots of roots on the track. We were both aware that these kind of injuries usually need rest and rehab. After a couple of hours we came to a forestry track and decided the best thing to do was to follow that for a couple of kms to the highway and call for a pickup from friends of Frances sister. We had been heading to the Dome Forest Campsite for the night.
The predicted thunderstorm arrived so we had a chance to check out our wet weather gear At Michelle and Garry’s home in Snells Beach we showered, washed clothes and dried out our gear. Then we were well fed and entertained for the evening. We were also very pleased not to be out in the storm in the Dome Forest.
We hitched a ride from one of their visitors into Puhoi the next morning to give Frances foot more rest. The cafe, library and the Pub were visited.
The rest of the crew arrived later in the day with their tales of being on Dome Mountain in the storm.
We have now passed the 500 km mark.
We spent a lovely evening being fed and wined, beered and beded at Trail Angel Ayme’s house. We shared with Gerben and Sanne, a lovely young married couple from Germany.
Next day we kayaked down the Puhoi River to the Wendholm Regional Park, crossing out of Northland into Auckland. There was a big group of us and we had a lot of fun and it was a nice change from walking. We had glimpses of the busy main highway into Auckland as we paddled. After very little mental stimulation for 500 kms I was not looking forward to dealing with a city and it’s noises traffic.
The others carried on while Frances and I made the hard decision that she needed to go home to get fixed up. Her friend was available to pick her up the next day so we headed out for a hobble to get a bus to Orewa. However Aymee and her mum were finishing a walk in the park and picked us up and delivered us to the campground where we sadly said our goodbyes. The plan was for me to continue and complete as much of Auckland as possible. Frances can come and join it a another time. We had already planned a time off from 21 to 26 November so I could attend my father’s 90th birthday so she could add to this break to give herself time to mend.