Dec 19 day 110 Lower Wairaki Hut to freedom camp 9:00-5:30 30 km
The forest this morning reminded me so much of the north island. There is a symmetry in that the very beginning and the very end of the TA are beach hikes and the parts connected are dense forest hikes. Very mossy, muddy, rooty, with little trail to follow, just the orange triangles. Got a late start just because I had to get some sleep after yesterday’s marathon. The forest led up to a peak which then became an open rocky ridge line. At first is was completely fogged in so I had trouble finding the trail marker poles, but then it lifted and the valley opened up, it had an edge of the end of the world feel to it. After a steep climb down I followed a farm road out to a bridge and gravel road, or, as the kiwis call it, a metal road. Long afternoon’s tramp brought me to the road and the intersection of several large farms, and no place to camp. One thing about the TA, there is often no place to camp at the end (or beginning) of a main section. As I stood there once again very tired and puzzling what to do, a hunter on his way up to look for wild boar offered to take me up the trail to the point where it enters native bush where it is ok to camp. I had little choice as I needed a place to stay and it will make tomorrow an easier day, something my weary bones welcome. Talking with him on the ride up was interesting. His family runs one of the big farms in the area, and he used to play polo in Europe before returning to work the sheep and cattle. He is hoping to put up a hut somewhere near where I was stuck to make available to TA trampers. Interesting guy to say the least (and he had beer). Got settled in the woods, made dinner, and welcomed going to sleep early. Tomorrow I’ll probably head to Otautau to resupply and a big meal.