Monday, 30 September 2013

Days 30-31: Clevedon and Hunua Ranges to Mercer

Day 30: I woke early and packed in the grey dawn light, moving on as quick as I could. To my surprise, I was greeted to the sight of a large gaggle of children at the lookout above Clevedon!
They are part of a Papakura church group, getting out there and enjoying nature. Good on them, I say! 
I got to Clevedon, expecting to wait til shops opened... Again I was surprised to see the Sunday market already setting up and the cafe open for breakfast. 
I had forgotten daylight savings! So it was an hour later than my watch... It all made sense now. I was greeted by a family at the next table, Chris was quick to identify me as a TAT walker- he is planning to walk in November, he gave me some nav help for the coming day, and I told hi briefly about the Herekino/Raetea forest section. I ate a large breakfast (my appetite is huge nowadays!), said goodbye and headed towards the wairoa river and the start of the Hunua Ranges.
Picturesque, no? 
A couple on horseback came by, doing some voluntary track maintenance on some very good looking horses.
What was interesting was that even though it was a weekend, I came across fewer than 5 others out enjoying this very beautiful area... I wonder why?
Great to see messaging about preventing kauri dieback disease!
I was heading for a basic campsite near Repeater Road (less chance of yobos etc hanging out by a composting toilet , eh!), and it was taking awhile- I was feeling tired and run down, but no time to feel sorry for myself! Up one track I saw this, which is never good..
... And on the other side, it said:
Phew! No signage on the other end of this track... Anyway, I reached the first dam and was impressed.
And not far from here, my home for the night.
Now, I know what you are thinking- Pat, what about your hammock?
Never fear! Where there is a will, there's a way:
It was very comfortable, with oodles of rainwater. And it was topped up nicely through the night which made for a cozy atmosphere. 
Day 31: This morning it was a drizzly  affair, hinting at the kind of day in store. Perfect!
Throughout the day it poured, blowed, and I was rewarded with some great encounters. Like two little piggies! Finally, my first visual sighting of wild pigs, and they were only sucklings. No idea where momma was, I was expecting an angry charge at any moment, but nothing. The kiddies played hide and seek with me, I could not get close enough for a good shot (on my iPhone), and didn't want to frighten them any more, so you will just have to believe me! 
There's one part of the track- the Southern Hakataramia track where the track notes caution you that good tramping skills are needed, and to stick to the track. Ok. It was fine for a bit, then it got ridiculous. Marker pointing at what looked like an escarpment.
After some time scrambling and climbing, I decided on a new plan. I interpreted 'good tramping skills' to mean know when you're beaten and head for a ridge line. I followed the ridge through a bunch of blown down trees, expecting to intersect with the marked route eventually. And so I found...
DOC workers! We had a chat about the trail, they told me they weren't responsible for the trail I had just walked (Auckland Regional Authority), and I carried on but not before a happy snap!
I love hard work, I could watch it for hours.
By late afternoon I emerged near SH2 to walk some farmland. Cows. Naturally.
Three bulls decided to play, I spent the first kilometer with these three stalking, charging, and then shying away at the last moment when my magic sticks were brandished. Eventually they let me be, and I walked on through howling wind and rain around a swamp and farmland. 
One of the intriguing things about the TAT is the diverse nature of the track. One moment, forests, then farms, then urban terrain..
And some cool engineering. 
An Archimedes Screw, obviously. But you knew that.
So, I'm catching up with my blog, recharging my batteries (literally), and doing laundry at the Mercer Hotel- a basic but cozy cabin. It will do me! I've had a scan of the upcoming terrain, looks like another two nights before I reach Hamilton. Bring it on! Thanks for reading, don't forget to share this with your friends and donate what you can. Gracias!

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