Saturday, 2 November 2013

Days 60-64:The Breaking of the Fellowship

Day 60. We had a big day of road walking planned,about 45 km to Palmy. Dad dropped us back into Bulls and we headed off at a reasonably early hour. Finally, a bridge with a decent-sized footpath!
It was all road verge walking to Feilding, so the average speed was good but sore feet and blisters also. We had an hour for lunch in Feilding (luxury!), sitting on a nice grassy knoll near a bakery, which did really good pies and doughnuts. I admit to having a nana nap as the warmth of the sun dried out my tired feet!
Feilding has apparently won 'most beautiful town' 14 times- and yes, it's pretty. I gave Feilding the Kiwiscout award for 'Best TA road verge', based on cleanliness, width of the verge, and just plain prettiness. Good on you, Feilding! Wish other towns had verge as good as this.
Also, the letter boxes and animals were pretty cool too.
The lads had fun getting the train drivers to honk their air horns, but we got down to the serious business of walking and by 5 pm we were having a celebratory beer at the Speights Alehouse on Grey St in Palmy, which also has the Peppertree backpackers, a fairly well put together place. Dinner with new friends including Ann from Belgium who kindly shared some bubbly with us, then the joy of sharing a dorm room with some guy who sounded like he was drowning in his own phlegm. Sweet.

Day 61. A spot of shopping this morning, including me having to replace my air mattress after failing to find the slow leak.. I don't use it all that often but when I do, it should stay nice and plump throughout the night! Thanks Viv and Wayne at Bivouac for your service and advice! I also ran into Viv's Brazilian expat  friend Fabiola who made me a great coffee, and we chatted about Wellington Batucada (a samba band that I used to perform with). Something Viv said to me stuck- about simplifying my life... I have a bit to ponder as I walk, so having input from friends, family and strangers is valued and worth thinking over!
Departing Palmerston North in the morning I saw a great sign. Well done Palmy!
In short order we were back into 'TA mode', and crossing streams despite a perfectly good bridge 50 m away. NOT complaining, really! :-). Here's a pic of two forlorn hikers vainly searching for a way to keep feet dry. I didn't try.
We ended up doing an easy 20ish km this afternoon, and found a good campsite at Kahuterawa Reserve and soon were cooking over fire... And setting up hammocks. Life's pretty sweet!
Despite a heavy rain warning from tonight, we are all looking forward to getting stuck into some Tararua tramping and crossing into the Wellington region. Homeward bound!

Day 62. Despite the tracks, including Burttons track being nicely graded, we seemed to have a 'go slow' day without meaning to... Still, it was nice out after a night of showers and blustery wind!
Eventually I discovered that today on Burttons track we would pass the significant 1,500 km milestone, and just had to celebrate (kicking myself that I was out of whisky!)
So, half of the TA completed (or near enough to, I'm not worrying about the extra 60 or so kms)!
We got to the Tokomaru reservoir area and set up for the night.
Chris decided to turn his Exped hammock into a Chinese laundry...
And we talked about the next day. Dad is picking me up from the Poad's car park, just before the first real Tararua track so I can spend the weekend celebrating my brother's 40th birthday, while Bila has decided to walk on and try solo tramping.  The Tararuas are challenging, so solo tramping them isn't recommended, but he is determined, and a Berlin Scout... What could go wrong? Chris decided to continue with me until Wellington, then we will go our separate ways. But who knows, we may will run into each other in the South Island!

Day 63. A good day to walk, with morning mist And occasional sun. It rained fairly constantly all night, so I was thinking about the streams.
It turned out to be ok though. We met a band of 12 senior citizens out tramping, and that gave me some hope for my own future! :-) this nice lady with the Belgian Barge dog even gave the lads their first taste of whitebait fritters!
She was also a good source of local knowledge so we spent lunch talking about the Tararuas, huts etc.
..and a heap of stream crossings later we were on the Gladstone Road and did a quick march to the next trail head. It was bittersweet as we said goodbye to Bila.
Dad arrived to whisk Chris and I to our weekend in the big smoke, and we watched Bila trudge off on his own. Good luck and happy trails my friend!

The day ended surreally with our arrival by car into Wellington on a Friday night, watching people in workwear and going out clothes on the busy streets. We checked in to the YHA who gave us a great discount for being TA walkers (they discount if you are a hiker walking any of the NZ trails), then went to the beautiful Embassy cinema to see 'Beyond the Edge', a NZ production in 3D about The British expedition that successfully climbed Mt Everest, famously with Kiwi Ed Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing. 
We ended the night with 'Day of the Dead' beers at Hashigo Zake, and Nepalese lamb dumplings, and a very nice catchup with an Army buddy and a Batucada friend who were able to drop by despite the lack of notice! 

Day 64. Beautifully sunny day here in Wellington, resupply to be done, pick up my sleeping bag/quilt from the post office, change my shoes back from road shoes to trail shoes for the Tararuas, and grab some champagne for tonight's festivities. Not looking forward to Sunday's climb to Waiopehu hut, 10 uphill kms with a hangover, most likely! The things I endure for family! :-)

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