• Kay

Day 13 The Worst and then Angels

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Start 7.45am

Finish 4.45pm ish (forgot to check, too tired)

Today distance 35.5km (29.5km of trail plus 6km extra for wrong turns)

Total 226.5 km

Steps 53,803

Stair flights 163

Weather Mostly sunny

Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri

A combination of the worst day, from a walking sense, however saved by demonstrations of such kindness from complete strangers it brought tears to my eyes twice.

The day started well. My morning routine is getting more efficient and I was on the road by 7.45am. Today was primarily road walking with a short period over farmland, and then along side a river.

Very first turn I took was wrong. My instinct was to turn right, and that is what the notes said, but there was a TA sign post pointing in the opposite direction. I thought maybe I just wasn't at the intersection I thought I was and the trail notes have been wrong before. I followed the sign.

200 km mark (etched lightly into the gravel. I know, a strange pose.

Approximately 1.5km up the road where there was a junction that didn't make sense I checked the TA app tracker (yes, I should have done that earlier but I was trying to save battery), and it showed my error. Back I tracked. I had a photo taken at the 200km mark (I know the squat position isn't a great look!), and then walked right on by the next turn off over the farm land. What I have worked out is the 'blue dot' which shows my location on the app can take a few moments to catch up with my actual location. Yet another valuable lesson learnt. Also in my poor defense, my app hasn't downloaded properly so I have no map contours or landmarks on it.

Once again, back I tracked, having stamped my feet, sworn at the cows in the paddock and trotted back at pace in complete frustration with myself. I would have actually thrown my toys out, if only I had packed them but they were too heavy! I was seriously mad. Little did I know it would get worse.

A photo from yesterday because I took hardly any today.

I found where I should have turned, climbed the stile looked around the paddock and could not see another track marker. I climbed to the top of the grassy hill. Still no markers. I checked the trail notes, they did not match the map, and actually had me going in the direction I had just backtracked from. Thankfully the cows were the only witnesses to my tantrum. Then a saviour arrived. Leon (from Raglan) caught up to me and as he has a different app (Guthook), I tagged along with him. Chatting to him allowed me to calm down and gain perspective for a short time, quite unaware my new found calmness was again to be challenged.

I pulled out my phone from my pouch to check our location. Looking in the pouch I noticed my safety locator beacon was missing. With no phone reception I had no way of knowing where it had fallen out. Probably when I was stamping my feet a couple of wrong turns back. I was very close to losing the plot. I also had no way of contacting loved ones who track me to let them know it was only the tracker not moving in a ditch on the side of the road.

We eventually had reception and messages were sent and that was a relief to me. There was also the realisation that no-one actually watches my hour by hour progress, so no-one back home was too concerned. My hope was someone following behind us would pick the beacon up but I suspected it was dropped at one of the wrong turns when I was stomping my feet. Dave could see its location on the side of the road and the ultimate plan was to get to Kerikeri, charge my phone so I could track it, hire a car, and go and get it.

Leon successfully navigated the farm, and I followed him, and then it was more road walking. Several kms later we were at a gate that Leon's app said we should turn into, but the sign said 'no entry' and 'private property'. My app said continue to take the road, so that is what we did. All of this has not helped my fear of getting lost. I do have printed maps but the scale is not big enough. Another lesson learnt.

My feet were already very sore and the battery on my phone was low so I was trying not to check my location too often. I was estimating we were well over half way. I couldn't resist and looked at the app - not even halfway to the day's destination, Kerikeri. Seriously!!! At this point I ate almost all of my remaining chocolate. It helped. There was plenty of it.

Along the road Trail Angels had left fresh, sweet and juicy tangerines by their mail box for TAers to help themselves to. They were divine and a great pick me up.

Eventually we made it to the Kerikeri River walk, which was stunning. A number of beautiful waterfalls. If my incredibly sore feet and now aching calf muscles weren't so prominent on my mind I would have taken more photos and appreciated it more. All I wanted to do was get to my accommodation which I booked a few days ago.

Leon was incredibly sweet and kept checking I was doing okay. My phone had now gone flat, and Leon and I were going separate ways as he was staying in town and I was on the outskirts. Leon took great pains to make sure I knew where I was going before he left me.

I asked several people for directions as I continued, just to allay my fears that I wouldn't go wrong again. On the final couple of kms I asked a young guy, he was no more than 25, to check on his phone that I had the right address for the accommodation. I was second guessing everything at this stage. He was lovely and kindly checked, while introducing himself as Chris. He then asked if I was married and wanted to 'hook up' tonight. Taken aback I said I was old enough to be his mother and he said that didn't matter to him. Thanking him while declining his (kind?) offer I continued on my way for the last km. It was so weird with the bonus of making me laugh all the way to my accommodation despite the shitty day and sore feet.

I arrived at 'The Windmill' to hosts Ken and Jane. As they were showing me my unit (like a sleepout in their garden) I explained the need to hire a car and why. Jane immediately said there was no need, that I should go and have a shower, charge my phone and she would drive me to get the beacon. Tears pricked my eyes. I asked if I could hug her, but apologised for being smelly. Jane accepted the hug and offered to do my laundry. I must have been pretty bad. She actually did insist on doing my washing which I am eternally grateful for.

Ken and Jane

On charging the phone I picked up a message that my beacon had been picked up by a local, they had contacted my husband (his number is in it), and would be coming to Kerikeri tomorrow morning and would drop it off to me. Second time that day my eyes watered.

Learnings of the day:

Get bigger print maps

Get a bigger battery pack

People are truly wonderful

Suck it up princess - nothing encountered today was life threatening

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