A cool dew settled on our tents in the morning. Distant calls of sheep and cows were drowned out by the morning chorus of birds. As usual I was the first to stir and signaled my waking by letting the air out of my mattress. The sound woke the other hikers.
There was not a breath of wind and the faint high cirrus clouds gave way to the fluffy, fair weather clouds. Today was roadwalking. Lots of roadwalking. Farm roads, small gravel roads and minor highways. I put on my headphones and listened to several hours of an audiobook.
10am photo below
The morning went by quickly. Every two hours or so Michelle and I would stop, chat, eat, drink and repeat. The other hikers were not walking our pace or distance so we were alone all day with the exception of the occasional farm vehicle or truck.
As the afternoon progressed the fluffy clouds turned grey, then dark grey bringing rain. By 4.30pm we were sitting at the front door of the toilet block of a picnic ground. We are all class. But it kept us dry long enough for the rain to stop.
Michelle has never done a long distance hike. This trail is very much a learning experience. I mentioned to her that several years ago while hiking the Pacific crest trail I hiked my first marathon day. More than 26 miles or 42km. Today was the day she wanted to hike her first ever marathon day. About 8km further was a shelter we could stay at. Despite my fatigue I dragged myself onto the trail.
We were off the roads and finally onto a trail. Not just any trail but the famed Timber Trail. This is mainly a 80km mountain bike trail but hikers also use the trail and it’s now part of the Te Araroa trail. Lush forest, exotic birds and a groomed walking trail for people of all levels. After so much roadwalking I got my second wind. The trail gave me quite the buzz.
Just near our planned campsite, Michelle hiked her marathon day, 26 miles. I still remember the first time I did it. There is a real sense of achievement, a real belief that the body can be pushed further than ever imagined. I’m sure she will remember the feeling for a while. As we set up our tents the stiffness and muscle fatigue set in. A large bowl of pasta, a hot chocolate with about 20 choc chip cookies might not be enough to replenish the energy reserves for tomorrow. At least I will be on a trail and the forest should be enough to replenish my soul.