Dec 1, 2016
Puketi forest HQ campsite
194.1 km on TA
We are almost out of the mythical Northland forests.
By comparison today was a short day and we have made camp around 5 PM at this lovely campsite operated by the Puketi forest head quarters.
I can hear the buzzing of mosquitoes and sandflies outside but also the jarring but otherwise sharp cries of the countless birds that thrive in new Zealand.
One of the best parts about waking up in a forest, arguably, are these birds. The fill the our morning their symphony like the heavy dew that collects on our tents’ rain fly. It is a saturation of sounds, calling and responding to one another across different octaves. Better than any alarm I’ve had to set!
The couple camped next to us had moved on quite early. I had the last of my boiled egg for breakfast, stuffed the sodden tent and fly into stiff sacks, checked my water, and made for the trail.
We were advised not to hike this section of it had rained recently. Flash floods were a real danger on this trail because almost two hours of it was what our guide book called shoal walking. It also included two river fording for good measure.
If the water was flowing over the bridge do not proceed, warned a sign about six kms into the hike.
I tapped my trekking poles on the brodgr, encouraged that it was water under the bridge (ha!).
While walking there I had no idea what to expect. We defended into a very steep v valley along an old 4wd track. I was relieved to see that the stream was a gentle one, barely ankle deep at most places with some darker, deeper pools along the way.
What followed was perhaps one of the most enjoyable two hours on this thru hike sofar. K2 and I took turn taking videos and photos of us criss crossing across the stream, my boots around my neck, negotiating that gentle rush of water from shoal to shoal.
Our feet, clad in trail handles, must have been very happy after Ratea to dip in and out of crisp, cold, clean water.
We had a lugubrious lunch before the river fording which turned out to be much less menacing than it had originally seemed. To be fair, had it rained prior this track would have been impassable and we would have been forced to wait till water levels receded to an acceptable level of risk.
The day wasn’t without tragedy. I lost my favorite left sock. It must have fallen out of my pack when I had it strapped it rather carelessly for it to air dry.
After the river it was a steep, steadt, hard packed forest track that was both challenging and exciting. I felt as if I was finally hiking.
This forest section had it all: bit of mud, crumbling ledge walks, hard but dry clay tracks that ascended to a grassy, Kauri lined ridge line, and also so many decapitated possums.
The possum was brought over here and their population had exploded. It was disturbing though to see tree after tree with traps that held a dead, decaying possum hung by its crushed neck.
Tomorrow we head to Keri Keri and resupply. I think it may turn out to be a zero day for us. It would mark a week on the trail and more than two hundred trail miles hiked under our feet.
Today was definitely Lothlorien and the Anduin.