or from the sound of the ocean to the noise of the city …
Those two days off in Whangarei are good for the body and for the spirit. I met up with Jörg again, who is also in Whangarei to resupply and with whom I shared the cost of a cabin in the Holiday Park. Rory is also in town, after an unfortunate crossing of the Ruakaka River where his cell phone drowned, he needs to get a new one so had to come back to Whangarei and stay with Jimi while getting things sorted. So we all meet up for a nice dinner and a few glasses of wine and are ready to go back on the trail on the 20th.
Thanks to the Te Araroa Facebook page, I had arranged a lift with Jen Rummy, a trail angel who look after hikers around Whangarei. She drops Rory and I off at Uretiti Beach. This and going to Whangarei from the Heads make me miss a few kilometers of the trail (about 14km), but is good for other reasons. I don’t have to cross the Ruakaka River (after hearing Rory’s experience I didn’t really want to), and I get to start again with Rory on this new leg of the journey. This is good, we had always met up at Jimi’s housetruck, but have never walked together yet.
This part of the trail between Uretiti Beach to Downtown Auckland took me seven full days of walking (about 181km). So it is a bit too long to give you the full detail of each day as I did in the previous posts. I will just give you a quick summary of this week.
Weather: Again, I have been lucky with the weather, having mostly some nice sunny days, sometimes overcast with a bit of drizzle, sometimes just way too hot … I still have to experience a full day of heavy rain on this trail … (but I’m sure this will come fast enough…).
Trail: During those seven days, the trail has been quite varied, and variety is the hiker’s best friend …. The beaches are always a welcomed sight, but I have learned to be careful with them… The Te Arai beach is a good example of a difficult beach to walk on: the hard sand near the water is way too much on an angle, and walking for too long on this part is VERY painful for the ankles and knees… the top of the beach is flat, but the soft sand turns the walk into a quite a workout … but still, I usually enjoy walking on the beach, it is pretty, there are always lots of birds of all kind (seagulls, gannets, oystercatchers, terns, dotterels and many more..) and walking with the sound of the ocean as music in my ears is just awesome. The forests are like a box of chocolate … you never know what you will get… looking at the map, you know you are going to enter a forest … but it could be a horrible heavily logged pine forest, like the one before Mangawhai heads or Moirs Hills, or the most prettiest bush, like the Dome forest or the Puhoi forest. There is quite a lot of road walking as well on this stretch of the Trail … a bit of it on gravel road and a lot on asphalt. And of course, those are the hardest, on the mind as well as on the body… It is quite interesting though to walk along the coast in the suburban North Shore of Auckland… The crossing of the Okura Estuary is the last bit of adventure we get before getting into the world of concrete … we do get some funny looks from all those dogs walkers, joggers and house owners along the Trail … Imagine three smelly and dirty trampers, in full hiking gear with hiking poles and heavy packs, walking on the sidewalk, passing those very fancy suburban houses … heehee … I think it was quite entertaining
Trail Angels: I would like to give a big thank you to all the “trail angels” that make life so much easier for us thru-hikers… Jen, who happily gave Rory and me a ride from Whangarei to get back on the trail ; Mandy, a very nice lady living on the Govan Wilson Road, where I stopped to ask for some water and she offered Rory, Edwin and I to pitch our tents in her beautiful backyard, and we shared some good conversations ; This very lovely older couple who stopped for us when Rory and I took the wrong way where the trail was closed by an angry landowner (the deviation was in the trail notes but I didn’t read them…) and who gave us a ride back to where we would have ended up on the other side of the hill… All those people more or less involved in the Trail life, and who give a bit of their time or their space, are SO MUCH help for us on the trail … of course I just named the ones on this section, but there are many more and i want to say a big thank you to all of them!!
Trail Buddies: I share this leg of the Trail with Rory. We sometimes walk together and talk, sometimes walk separately, being in our own space, but always meeting up at the end of the day to set up camp. We are joined by Edwin, one of Rory’s friend, for the weekend. They had planned to hike together whenever Rory would be the closest to Auckland on a weekend… so Edwin walked with us through the Dome Forest, and this is how I spend my Birthday with two good trail companions, celebrating the 500th km mark of the Te Araroa and getting a treat at the Dome Cafe… Jörg catches up with us on the evening of day 24 (Monday). So the next day we all join up and hike together all the way through Auckland North Shore into Devonport.
Meeting other hikers, sharing trail stories and experiences, sharing also life stories and getting to know each other better, walking parts of the Trail together for a bit, not seeing each other for a few days because we take different days off, or stay in different places for the night, catching up again … all this is such a major part of the walking the Trail …. we are all doing the same Te Araroa Trail, but we also are all living it a different way. We are all from different places of the world, of different ages, with different backgrounds, but we all share one special thing … We all have put aside our work, our families, our daily routine for a few months to walk the Trail. And because of all this, we connect on a particular level and become part of the “Trail Family”.
Here are the links to the blogs that my “trail buddies” are running, so you can read there vision of the TA :
Rory (hiking for a good cause) : http://getupnz.com/
Andrew (a FANTASTIC writer!!): http://mcfallon.com/
Jörg (with whom I have been hiking the most so far) : http://joerghikesnz.net/
I am now (day 27 and 28) having two days off in Auckland to recover. So it is the usual resupply/blog update/laundry/real food eating/taking care of the body/sleeping in a real bed little routine that we have to do during our days off … a rest day is definitely not a lazy day in a thru-hikers life!