Day 10 So Ridiculous you have to Laugh
Saturday 19 October 2019
Today’s Distance 18km
Highest Elevation 744m
Weather: Overcast, drizzly, foggy, sunny.
Feeling: Strangely elated.
Where to start! Last night it poured down and blew a bit of a gale. I did a short video at about 2am to give you some idea of the deluge. The tent held up, however sleep was limited until the rain died down a little. The ear plugs really made minimal difference.
Today was the infamous Raetea Forest. It is the volume, depth and continuous nature of the mud that gives it its reputation. With no small amount of arrogance I thought it really can’t be that bad, even with the overnight rain. And to start it wasn’t too bad. Muddy – yes – but not that much worse than other NZ tracks.
So there was some mud, and a bit of up hill. I took my time, taking photos of ferns and things of interest. Then there was a lot of mud and the up hill was steeper. I got to the highest peak of the day and thought that hadn’t been too bad and assumed it would only get better on the way down. How wrong I was! I have never experienced anything like it. Down the other side I could not envisage how it would be possible to come up in the opposite direction as the slopes were so steep and muddy. Mostly I just slide down them. When my fitbit buzzed to tell me I had done 10,000 steps I nearly buried it in the mud. I was sure I had done at least three times that amount.
I took three significant tumbles with innumerable near misses and minor trips. On the third fall I landed on a kind of dry bank and decided to stay on my butt where I landed and have lunch. I was eternally grateful for the hiking poles which saved me from many falls and face plants. By late afternoon the terrain flattened a little and I thought once again it can’t get any worse. Once again I was very wrong. There was absolutely no point not just walking right through the middle of the calf deep mud. Not that there was a choice. There was no way around the sides.
A one point I was confronted by the largest, widest and deepest mud lake and I just laughed out loud. There was nothing else I could do! It was exhausting and nearly 11 hours after starting I finally reached the camp on the other side.
To my surprise there were half a dozen other people at the campsite. I have discovered they all took two days to do the forest, staying overnight on the track. I didn’t do a great deal of talking. I washed the mud off in the stream, put up my tent, had a handful of fruit and nuts for dinner and went to bed. I was completely done in.
Interesting fact: I saw at least 20 giant NZ snail shells over the course of the day. They probably all drowned in the mud!