Day 58 Epic Distance
Friday 5 December
Timber Trail start to Epic Campground
Distance 40.5km (seriously impressive if I say so myself!)
The Timber Trail is incredible, and beautiful, and stunning. It is a cycle trail through forest that was for many years harvested for its native trees, and the trail follows the old railway line used to transport the logs.
There were so many kākā squawking and flying around. At one point a flock of six flew over. The Kahikatea trees were massive and imposing, and I am so pleased the logging was stopped before they were all taken.
As it is a cycle trail, it is wide and smooth, and any elevation climbs and descents are steady, easy gradients. The day started with the intention of walking about 26km to a campsite. Kate and I took one side trip up and over Pureora ( 1275m) for promised views over Lake Taupo and across to Ruapehu, Tongiriro and Ngauruhoe. It was a great view but very hazy so we could barely see the mountains or lake. Anyway...we had to go over as it would be unTA (new word) to go around an elevation.
Surprisingly, while having lunch on the summit, about half a dozen people I haven't seen on the trail before also arrived. They had all hitch hiked to the beginning of the Timber Trail. The trail off the summit had a sign to say it was no longer maintained by DOC (Department of Conservation). Although it was overgrown, in reality the track was better than many on the TA.
Over lunch Kate and I discussed the idea of going further than originally planned, primarily based on the heavy rain warnings for the area that are due on Sunday. We had managed to get mobile phone reception on the summit which confirmed the forecast. We decided to see how far we could get, without committing totally to doing the trail in two days. Our original plan was three days (plus a day for the road walk to Taumaranui), and the trail notes suggest four days. So if we are to do the trail in two days that requires one day of 40km and the second day of 42km, followed by 26km of road walking. And this is on top of the 37km of road walking completed yesterday. So I'm not convinced this is doable, however I really don't relish the idea of being caught in heavy rain without reliable wet weather gear.
The trail continued to be great with incredible swing bridges over massive gullies, and bird life that I haven't seen or heard before. The railway tracks had been cut through rocks and those rocks are now covered in moss and ferns and are pretty amazing to walk through.
Kate and I took a break at the campsite we were originally going to stop at, and while there a man on a bike stopped and chatted to us, letting us know that there was a 'glamping' site with beds in set up tents, hot showers and breakfast provided at the 40km mark. It is called Epic Camp. That was all it took to convince me that it was worth aiming for that. Kate was walking faster than me so we agreed to make our own way to the camp at our own paces.
I took many, many breaks, massaging my feet each time. Eventually I arrived, and other than being thrilled that I had just walked 40km with a pack, the campground was amazing. It has only been open for three weeks, and the beds in the canvas tents are made up with sheets and duvets, and towels were provided. It is truly epic and warrants its name.
As we are planning to leave early tomorrow, we had our breakfast for dinner. For me it was scrambled eggs on toast.