Campsite Elevation: 136ft/42m
We all woke up early to start hiking at 7am. That really isn’t early, but when you’re packing up in a pitch dark forest, it seems that way. Griggs and I said bye to Josephine who enjoys walking a bit slower than us. We keep saying bye unsure of if/when we might see each other again and continue to leapfrog. We wore our headlamps the first 15mins or more until it was light enough to step confidently in the dense forest.
The Longwood Forest is aptly named. We did 4mi/7km yesterday and still had 11mi/17km of it this morning. It felt like an eternity and wasn’t even all that slow going. The monotony of it all is making time go by very slowly. We are ready to finally be done and on to something new.
I don’t think either of us have felt this way at the end of a long hike. Most of them build to some kind of scenic climax or challenge. Instead, we are just slowly inching forward it seems, and counting the minutes on monotonous terrain. I’ve heard many hikers have this same reaction to the end of the TA. It’s funny how it comes full circle because we had forests, roads, and beach walking, and many towns up north, and now it’s almost exactly the same to end the trail.
The Longwood Forest was used for gold mining in the 1890s, and has a deep trench along the path the whole way. The trench was used for a system of gold mining known as sluicing that required a lot of water. It was unique to see, and made for some slow going at times as we sometimes needed to cross the trench or climb over fallen trees across the trench with the added challenge of slippery claylike mud at times.
There were a ton of spiderwebs to walk through and the ferns were often over the trail. I get claustrophobic and don’t like brush and webs touching me, especially over a long period of time, so it really felt like I was struggling to get out of a cage all morning. I can’t even imagine if it was wet brush with added mud. I was trying to keep the negativity inside until Griggs (who loves hiking everything) mentioned feeling the same way. We were sooo happy to be out of that forest, the last forest of the trail!
From there, it was a bit of a road walk to Colac Bay, where we ate a great filling lunch at Colac Bay Tavern. Notice the cat that’s apparently a regular at the bar. We did see Josephine coming in as we were leaving, and she expressed the same “Are we there yet!?” sentiment, so it was good to hear we weren’t the only ones feeling that way. From what I’ve heard, it’s a very common emotion at this point on the Te Araroa, and that is different from the other trails I’ve done where many are excited or don’t want it to end. This one, we’re all just waiting somewhat impatiently for the end to finally arrive.Then we had a few hours on the Tihaka Beach track, which turned out to be very little actual beach walking. The tide was really high, so we don’t know if there would have been a sand option at low tide. We spent the afternoon up on the stones or on the grassy hillside above the sand. It was frustrating at times mostly because we thought we’d be doing an effortless cruise on the beach, but instead it was a taxing, brushy, sometimes confusing, up and down on the hillside.
Don’t get us wrong, the views were great, but we were definitely paying the “TA tax” to be able to see it. This is one where the photos do not capture the effort being put in to hike there. Griggs described it well at one point when he said it just feels like sometimes the TA can just be one big middle finger. Again, we are so amazingly fortunate to have had great weather for all this, and we realize this looks grand, but walk for 15mins in it, after 4 months of it, and you’ll understand how it isn’t just a “walk on the beach.” The scenery is deceiving.
We ended the day walking into the small town of Riverton. We grabbed a few things at the grocery store for the final two days and had some very disappointing food at the local takeaway (only thing open). This was the first takeaway all trail that was disappointing. We wished we’d just gotten something at the grocery store. We are hoping we don’t get sick because it was quite low quality food, darn.We headed out of town and knew we wanted to find a protected spot to camp just off the beach. There were some awesome pine trees just between the town and the start of the next beach walk that we decided to stop at. An awesome spot, and the best part of the day as we both love camping in pine forests.
We had dry feet for the first day in forever today! My toes issue on my feet are gone, but my heat rash I tend to get sometimes was very present. It was further irritated by the sand today. It felt like I had fiberglass on top of my feet at times with how it was stinging to have the sand rubbing the already sensitive and blistering rash.
Fortunately, I have the foot cream that is soothing at the end of the day. I’m looking forward to getting the sand walking done tomorrow! Just two more days feet, just two more days! Hang in there. I’m excited that I’m done blogging early enough tonight to watch the most recent episode of Greys Anatomy, yay!
Also, a quick update on Becky and Tom. They completed the section to Queenstown last night. Poor Tom got a stomach bug or something coming out of Wanaka. They had to zero in a hut because he was throwing up. It’s a terribly challenging section to be depleted, but he pulled it out and was a trooper. Few photos this stretch from them other than poor Tom laid out in the tussock. Still, he has a smile of course!Can I just point out the coincidence that Tom wears the bright green that I often do, and that his blog that he wrote (stopped blogging about a month into the hike) was titled “Walk With Waard.” It was a play off his last name, Waardenburg, and he’d never heard of my site. I just find them to be fun coincidences. Well, today Tom was on the upswing, and they headed out of Queenstown and towards Te Anau. They are about ten days away from Bluff!