Day 177 Gales, falls and 2800km
4 April 2021
Aparima Hut to Telford Campsite
Gales while on the ridges of mountains, although exhilarating, are also a little frightening especially when a gust actually knocks you over.
Last night was extremely windy and I was thankful to be in a hut. Not the type of weather that makes being in a tent any fun.
With the benefit of daylight saving coming to an end, it meant a naturally early start. Despite the wind and the apparent dreadful bladders of others in the hut (there were multiple occasions through the night that people went in and out of the hut), I felt I had a reasonable sleep. As such I started the day feeling recovered from the previously hard day.
Within 500m of leaving the hut I was to hit the 2800km mark. Rather than stop almost as soon as I started I had the obligatory photo taken at the hut. Ken kindly took the photo for me. Unfortunately it was still fairly dark and I didn't check the photo before leaving, so it is somewhat blurry.
Ken then went on his way and I set off shortly behind him. One of the great things about following someone else is the ability to drop your guard a little in terms of finding the trail. It's a bit more relaxed.
Once out of the enclosed valley the hut was in, the wind really hit us. We were still in a valley, traversing around another swamp area so there was no tree cover. There were gusts which required us to stand still and just brace. We reached the blissful protection of the beech trees and Ken expressed his concern about the ridges of the mountain we had to climb later in the day. I was hopeful the gales would have exhausted themselves by then. It transpired my legs weren't quite as recovered as I thought and my progress felt slow, and Ken carried on ahead of me.
The DOC sign at Aparima hut had said the next hut (not my stopping point for the day) was 16km and 6 hours away. I put my head down and bum up for another big day.
Miraculously the sign was 3km out, in my favour, and I was at the hut before 12 noon. This gave me considerable encouragement that the next section wouldn't be too bad and I would make it to the campsite at a reasonable time.
I did get a little over confident at one point, striding over a log through a mud patch. Slipped off good and proper. My poles did not save me. The right side of my body ended up buried in the mud - the very wet type, about 5 inches deep. Lots of swear words practiced then.
The only reason for pushing on today is after the campsite we walk over private land for 8 to 9 hours. It can only be done in the daylight and there is no camping allowed. So to make it all work I needed to be at the Telford campsite by the end of today.
There was just the small issue of a mountain and gale force winds between me and my destination. The next 600m climb required a vast quantity of jaffas and jellybeans, but the views made it worth while. I think I could see as far as the sea. Might have been wishful thinking.
While the views were staggering so was the force of the wind. There were no trees for protection. It was slow progress as I had to stop frequently to steady myself against the gusts. For one I just couldn't keep upright and I was blown off my feet. Fortunately into a bush rather than landing on the rocks.
From there it was open country down to the campsite, and although the wind is not as intense down here, it remains very strong. I have secured the tent as well as I can, however I think it will be a night of minimal sleep.
So I'm lying here in my sleeping bag, my tent rattling around me, the wind in the leaves of the nearby single beech tree warning of the next gust and the sound of deer roaring being carried clearly on the wind. Time to put in my earplugs!