Sep 15 day 15 Pataua South to McLeod Bay 29 km 7:15-4:00
A day of different surfaces and perspectives. Was supposed to start out by traversing a mud flat, but would have had to wait until noon, so I took the long way around the estuary on a road. Then up and over Kauri Mountain and down to Ocean Beach, a place I had visited ten years ago on another trip. Long morning walking the beach (including a ford that was mid-thigh deep (and cold). The weather was strange, cloudy, windy, cold, then sunny and hot. Kept having to stop to add or remove layers. At the end of Ocean Beach rose a set of steep mountains, so the afternoon was a ridge hike, first up a very steep sheep path, then into the woods for a lot of up and down. Much of the steep part had wooden/gravel steps, a mixed blessing. Got to the highest part and missed a track sign (was only written on one of the plastic triangles with a sharpie). As I was climbing, the trail got narrower and more vertical. Soon I was doing serious rock climbing still carrying my backpack and poles. Turned out I was on a spur to the top of a narrow rock peak–the kind that make you tremble when you stand up. Never should have been climbing that with full gear. At the top, it was clear the only return was the way I had climbed up, and after some stressful moments, I regained the regular path and my balance. The rest of the trail was up and down until it dumped me into Urquhart bay (after a least a thousand steps). Followed the road over to McLeod bay, looking for some sort of campground or motel. Stopped to talk to a school bus driver who had just finished her route. She had found a budgie which she had in a box. She and her husband used to run a B&B in McLeod Bay, so she invited me to sleep in her basement. After tea, her husband came in, some mixed signals between them and I soon found myself out looking for a place to stay. There were some B&B s but none took Visa and my cash was short. Ended up sitting on a bench near the bay making ramen noodles, waiting for the sun to go down so I could pitch a tent in the park and not be noticed. On the upside, I was able to arrange with Steve Martinovitch for a boat ride across the bay tomorrow morning.