Day 105 Pain, extreme heat and exhaustion
Thursday 23 January
Smith's Farm Campsite (Linkwater) to Pelorus Bridge
Elevation approx 300m
Weather: Incredibly hot
I will call today a test of endurance and stamina. I didn't have to do the distance I did today, but I had a plan in mind and I wanted to achieve it. Bad move. I will keep trying to learn to listen to my body and not my head - ever the slow learner.
I left in good time this morning with the prospect of Dave picking me and taking me home today. We live less than 45 minutes from Pelorus Bridge. There is no cell phone coverage from just out of Havelock to Pelorus Bridge so I had to make a call on how far I was going to get, to arrange the pick up point. Added to this I really wanted to get to the Bridge as that made the next leg something I could do on one of my rest days at home, and take the dog. From Pelorus Bridge there is a 14km unsealed road walk to the beginning of Pelorus Track (the start of the Richmond Ranges). The plan is to take a couple of days rest, do the 14km, go back home for a couple more days, and finally start the Richmond Ranges all fresh.
But first there was 34km between me at that Bridge.
For most of the way between Linkwater and Havelock there is a track, even though in most places it runs along side the road. It is a nearly continuous trail between Picton and Havelock called Te Ara Tuhono. A track that recently had its formal opening after many years of mahi (work) by volunteers to make it happen. I am so impressed by the people who have the vision and gumption to think of such big audacious goals and make them happen.
In places that trail is lovely, through some nice native bush, which thankfully gave some shade. I arrived in Havelock at 11.30am and was very pleased with the progress I had made. An hour for lunch, and the worst steak sandwich of my life, then onwards. I made the call that I would make it to Pelorus. The self imposed pressure was on.
The next 14km was all road with no shade. Initially it wasn't too bad and I anticipated being able to jump in the river at points. Unfortunately that wasn't the case with no easy access.
I got to Dalton's Bridge, a possible alternative pickup point, and thought with only 6.5km to Pelorus I must surely be able to manage that as it was now on farm land rather than road. Again I anticipated being able to take a dip in the river or side streams, and that there would be shade.
So wrong on all fronts. I couldn't get to the river. All the signs said to keep on the track as you are on private property. Added to which there was no physical way of getting to the river. There were electric fences, a vertical bank and blackberry and gorse in the way. The side streams were all dry. The sun was coming from the wrong angle so no shade. Walking in paddocks, although better than the road, is still not ideal. It is heavily rutted by animal hooves, but you can't see the indentations under the grass. It was unbelievably hot.
At the 1,799km mark I remembered I needed to take the 1,800km photo shortly. One km later I had forgotten. SO there is no photo. My feet, particularly my left one was very painful. Not only the toe issue that has been a continuous problem, but I was now getting random shooting pains from the front ball of my left foot. Several rests and foot rubs happened in the lat 2-3kms.
Finally I arrived in the bush track before the bridge, and was unbelievably grateful for the shade. Within 300m of the end of the track, Dave appeared. He described me as a bright red, sweaty mess. I would have happily had him carry me if I didn't have to do every bloody step myself. Off with the shoes, to be put immediately into the boot to stop the smell spreading through the car, then into the car with the aircon on full. It was 6pm and the car temperature gauge was saying it was still 28 degrees. No wonder I had been so hot.
It is pure bliss to be home. A few days rest will hopefully see my feet, and the rest of me, come right.