February 25th
Mararoa River Track(1709.7)-SH94/Te Anau(1721)
Mileage: 11.3mi/18.2km

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook Hikes Te Araroa App.

Today was just an 11mi/18km gravel road walk to the highway to then hitch 19mi/30km into Te Anau, one of the final major trail towns. We knew it would be a short day, and couldn’t check into the hostel until 1pm, so we slept in. I was awake from 5:15am-6:30am doing the blog and emails. I made myself go back to sleep, and ended up sleeping till 7:30am, which is really late for me. Some rain was expected along the trail today, and the clouds were awesome! Once again, we dodged weather!

We just cruised the road with some sprinkles from time to time, but no real rain. Really, nothing eventful, but a nice cool morning for a road walk. 

We got to the road at 11:45am, and seriously, within a minute of hitching a car pulled over. It was a driver shuttling cars for the Routeburn who drives this direction all the time and picks up hikers. Score! He told us about how it takes about four hours to shuttle a car from one end of the Routeburn or the other, and they charge about $250 for that service. If there isn’t another car at the other end, they run the whole 19mi/30km track. His best time is 3hr 11mins. I didn’t take a photo as I don’t know that he was supposed to be picking up hitchhikers in a stranger’s car, but I was sure glad he did! We were in town and eating subway just after 1pm. Perfection!

We are at the YHA hostel and once again have our own room. If you hike in a pair, it does really help out with accommodations. I think it was only $4NZ more for each of us to get a room together instead of in a dorm with a lot of people. It’s been working out that way a lot lately and is so much more relaxing. 

The day went by quick with town chores, making final plans for the last week on the trail, and each of our plans after the hike. Griggs booked his paragliding course in Queenstown (so exciting) that he’ll drive up to take the day after we finish. He’s getting really into it watching videos and reading in preparation. We were able to get our lodging booked for our remaining nights we’ll need it in NZ. We also got a rental car reserved, and I worked out logistics to be able to visit my friend I mentioned is also down here. 

I think that since Griggs and I have finished many trails, and have more immediately following this, the end of this one doesn’t feel like anything exciting just yet. Since we have our independent personal plans in NZ, and then Tasmania right after, it all feels like one big hike instead of being done. Actually, since I’ve been going consistently for over 8 months, it just feels like I’m still mid-hike. The final leg to me will be Tasmania. I hope that makes sense. It’s difficult to feel like I’m done or that I completed something when I known there’s still a full month of hiking to come. 

I did have to buy some foot cream for the first time ever. I don’t know why, but for some reason my toes on both feet have reacted to being wet all day the the two days before today. We’ve had wet feet all trail, so I don’t know why this is any different. There has been a break from the all day back-to-back wet feet, so maybe my feet got soft. Whatever it is, they are raw, red, and burning between and under all the toes. Not itching, but just raw and sensitive at times feeling like a lot of paper cuts and stinging. I’m hoping this day to get them out of the shoes and get foot cream on them will help. Yep, the fun stuff people don’t mention when they talk about thru-hiking:)

Well, that’s about it for today. It was a simple one, but we got a ton of logistics done that has set some fun things into motion in the near future. It feels good to get planning out of the way…and sew the holes in my dang shoes one last time, ugh!

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