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Day 31 Yay! 500km Mark

Saturday 9 November

Woodcocks Road to Puhoi

Start 8am

Finish Can't remember. I think about 2pm. At the end of the track went straight to the pub for a meal and forgot to check the time.

Distance 16km

Total 516km

Steps 27,820

Elevation: 450m approximate.

Weather: Overcast, then drizzly, then raining, then sunny.

A steep start, but first the 500km mark photo! One sixth of the way to Bluff. Yippee. Only 2500km to go!!!

500km mark. It is light drawn in the road.

Last night I didn't sleep well even though I was in a bed. I kept thinking the bed was on a slope and I was falling off it. Which is what I am constantly doing on the air mattress in the tent. I seldom wake up in the morning actually still on the air mattress. I am yet to get used to sleeping well in the tent. I was ready before Betty or Lulu had even started packing so I set off. They both walk slowly, take lots of breaks, and where possible hitch hike the roads.

After a short road walk the day started over forestry roads which is easy walking even though it was uphill. The overcast weather progressed to very light drizzle. The type that has you over thinking whether to put on the rain coat or not. It was humid so wearing a raincoat makes me overheat. Eventually it started raining properly so the coat went on. Two minutes later it stopped so the coat came off. And so the coat on, coat off fun routine repeated itself several times before the weather made up its mind to rain properly, heavily and constantly. The rain continued for several hours, so sorry there were no almost no photos taken.

At one of the summits there was a cell phone tower. Took the opportunity of strong reception to try to find accommodation in Puhoi. Very strangely it was all fully booked. Everywhere. Hmmm, I thought I may be stealth camping somewhere. I have a kayak booked for 7.30am to do the Puhoi River on the outgoing tide, so have to stay in Puhoi.

Over farmland and then onto a lovely forest walk into Puhoi. With the rain the grass was slippery, but I made it through without incident. About an hour from Puhoi I was taking a break and Chris caught me up. We discussed accommodation and with no plan walked the rest of the way to Puhoi together, hanging out for a late lunch at the Puhoi pub. Chris is a kind and compassionate soul.

We ordered and as I went to find a seat, found Kate. A lovely surprise. She is feeling much better and will join me kayaking tomorrow morning. Chris has also decised to kayak. The only alternative to the kayak is a walk around along a very busy part of SH1. Not an attractive (or safe sounding) alternative.

Also with Kate was another TAer from California. We discussed the lack of any accommodation, and there was a suggestion that a trail angel, Aimee, from Puhoi had just made a facebook post to say she had a lawn (and garage if it is raining) that was available nearby. I contacted her asking if we could stay, the answer was yes. Not only do they offer the accommodation they will also pick you up and drop you back. We were lucky to have yet another trail angel with us. Kate's relative (Mikey) offered to drop us off. All set.

The forecast is for rain overnight so we are in the garage, on real beds. Betty and Lulu have also joined us. Aimee's parents offered to get us fish and chips and burgers for dinner and then wouldn't take any money for it. Such kindness and generosity is continuing to blow me away. Then, when you thought the generosity couldn't be any greater, Ruth, Aimee's Mum, brought in a large bowl and packets of epsom salts for us to soak our tired feet. Wow.

Today was a great day. I love walking in the rain, the company was perfect and the kindness of strangers once again completed this ideal day.

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