Pirongia Hut 805.6km to Bushcamp 832km
Rain and wind woke me several times as it beat down onto the roof and window of the hut. The morning light appeared through the window next to my bed. I was thankful to be dry and warm inside the hut.
It was hard to leave the comfort of the dry hut and head into the rain and wind. I’m very fast at hiking downhill and even faster when its a technical downhill section. The mud was horrific. It didn’t take long to realize I’d be hiking twice as fast as Michelle.
10am photo below
Steep muddy trail with tree roots and the occasional knee deep sinkhole. I’ve had plenty of experience hiking in boggy knee deep mud over the years. Most hikers try their best to walk around deep mud holes. This takes so much time and often doesn’t prevent the odd fall or excursion into the muddy abyss. 3-5 hours to cover 5km said the sign at the hut. I took 3 hours and Michelle took 4 hours. Overall we traveled faster than expected.
The Silver Fern Car Rally was taking place on the forestry roads at the bottom of the climb. It’s an 8 day rally that covers a lot of the north island forestry roads and backroads. Normally the event is held on the south island but this is the first year it has been held on the north island.
The rally road was also our hiking trail so it was a 3 hour wait for the rally cars to pass and the road to reopen. The cold and physical nature of the descent gave me a ravenous appetite. While waiting for Michelle and watching the rally I ate 3 large tortillas with cheese and Pepperoni, 4 granola bars and half a bar of Cadbury’s Milk chocolate.
The road reopened at 2pm. We were left with a bit of a situation. The next place we could possibly camp was just over 20km away. With sunset at 8pm it would be a late finish.
We crushed the first 15km on quiet roads and slowed through farmland with curious sheep and skittish cows. In the mist of the rainforest our water bottles were topped up in a mountain stream at 7.30pm. With 30 minute till sunset we set off knowing other hikers had mentioned camping nearby but we had no idea where. Did nearby mean 10 meters away or 10 minutes away or was it further.
You can’t always get what you want. That’s what Michelle said as we set up our tents at 8pm as darkness approached. The site we chose to camp was less than ideal.
The ground sloped at an awkward angle, tree roots stuck through the ground in random places and there was barely enough room for two tents. The rain eased and the sounds of songbirds slowly ended as the night took over.
As the Rolling Stones said, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need. How true those words can be. It was a hard day, I thought to myself as my head hit my inflatable pillow. And the weather was forecast to get worse, much worse.