I started back on trail with Cara who was to join me for three days from Palmerston North to the back of Levin. Her husband Daniel was dropping us all off at our start points. The Lazy German was hitching to Turangi to pick up a parcel, Roman was starting at his end point, being Burger King on Rangitikei Street and Cara and I were skipping a bit of road walking that I had done before. Poor Daniel had been up all night with a stomach bug so he was not feeling the best as he dropped us off.
Cara and I walked our first day along Kahutere Road, onto the Back Track to the new Toko Corner shelter. It was about 16km mostly through bush and forest that has many mountain biking tracks.
We stopped for lunch at the 1,500km sign. I felt very pleased with myself for reaching the half way mark, but also felt that it was just going too fast. I am loving doing the trail and don’t want it to finish too soon. But I believe that half way in distance is not actually half of time needed to complete the damn long walk.
A Canadian couple came along and we chatted a bit about our trail so far. They had started a week or so after me. Eventually the girl asked if I was Karen. Apparently her mother in Canada had been following my blog and passing on what I had been doing to her daughter. “Karen did this, so you should.” So she had been curious to meet me. Needless to say she took off quickly, glad to be ahead of me to prevent her mum quoting me all the time.
We were first to arrive at Toko Corner shelter, which I had stayed on last May with NOBO (North Bound) hiker. We had been the first ones to sleep in the shelter and my note was pasted in the front of the Intentions Book.
There were rather large beatles on the wall so we decided to sleep in the tent for the night. By night fall there were 5 others there with us including 2 girls from USA, Swiss Roman, and an English couple, Andy and Moni, who were older than me. Unfortunately Moni had a knee injury that was not getting better so this was to he their last section. Another sad decision made. I do hope I get through without injury.
After a cost night in my 2 man tent I was glad not to be sharing for whole trail. Cara had my old 3 quarter Thermarest mattress and kept waking up thinking possums were looking at her. This was the result of us all talking about our experiences with animals and insects while tramping. This is not really good night time topics for this not used to sleeping in the outdoors, like Cara.
Our second day together as very enjoyable as we rarely have much time alone together. We chatted all day eventually arriving at the Tokomaru Shelter six hours and 14 km later.
The day was fine as we headed along the Burton Track. This track is best marked and maintained track so far on the Te Araroa. The styles were 10 star and the wet sections of the track had been dealt with well by the local volunteers, therefore consuderably reducing the mud.
We passed through a section of track that I had helped clear in early October.
I really appreciate the hard work the volunteers do throughout the country to keep the tracks open for us. And every walker I come across is reminded of this. My mission is to ensure everyone understands the effort put in to provide the trail and that they need to donate to the Te Araroa Trust to ensure the survival of the trail.
You never know, you may want to follow in my footsteps one day. (Maybe choose a few of them better than I did )
Cara didn’t sleep well that night in the shelter as she had spied a mouse shortly before bed time. As for me, I just put on my eye mask and seal in my silicon ear plugs taking the “see no evil, hear no evil” attitude.
It rained through the night and we awoke to light but very wetting rain. So it was to be another TA experience for Cara walking in the rain.
The first part was along forestry roads passing one of the Mangahou Dams. Then into the Tararua Firest Park for a day of trudging up hill through mud and stream crossings. Cara was enjoying herself which was a relief for me. The last thing I want to do is give someone a bad experience.