We finally got our first major rain storm along the Fisher Track on the Te Araroa but managed to survive!
When it rains it pours they say. See how we cope in the latest video from the trail:
DAY 36 – Mangahuia Campground to Oio Road
I woke up to rain. The forecast said 100% chance of rain all day. This was not going to be fun. It was just a sprinkle at first and I thought if I pack up fast enough maybe I’ll beat the downpour. I was wrong. A hard rain began and I realized my tent was on a low spot and would flood out if I didn’t make moves.
Once my bag was packed, I whisked it to the cooking shelter at the campground to keep it dry. Then I pulled my tent stakes out and picked up my entire tent and brought it under the shelter as well. Under roof I packed my soaking wet tent away. Tom was still in his tent, intent on sleeping in. That plan changed once water started dripping on his face.
We left the campground in a drizzle and began the long march along the road into the town of National Park. It was over an hour down the road. Once there we resupplied at a small, expensive grocer and then had breakfast at a nearby cafe.
There was no cell reception. In fact I hadn’t had cell reception for a few days except briefly on top of Tongariro. Tom had no luck either. My breakfast of bacon, sausage, beans, toast, and eggs warmed me up as it poured outside.
We left the cafe in better spirits but the rain was quick to dampen them. Walking out of town we joined the Fisher Track, a nice dirt road that wound its way through the mountains. At least the terrain would be easy.
The track proved beautiful as it rained intermittently. It would have been one of my favorite little tracks had we not been soaked. The area was once farmed in the early 1900s but the rugged terrain had been somewhat abandoned with the bush growing back. It was quite picturesque.
The skies would brighten for a moment and the rain would almost turn to mist and then it would pour again. We couldn’t catch a break. We watched some sheep that had escaped their paddocks run all over the road in their own, vagabond flock.
With the easy terrain, we made quick time and arrived at our planned destination, a war memorial, before 4pm. We weren’t sure if we were allowed to camp but the friendly nods from several passing farmers put us at ease. The rain had ceased and the sun peeked through the clouds. Soon our tents were hanging on the fence drying.
By the time our tents were pitched and we were settled, like clockwork the rain returned. And it came hard! The wind pulled at the stakes and rocked the walls but my tent stood firm. I sat inside as the deafening rain bombarded my tent. I watched as droplets began running down the inside of my tent. Apparently it is not 100% waterproof anymore.
My tent, as with much of my gear, is now almost two years old. I used it on the Appalachian Trail and now it’s spent five weeks on the TA. I was told you should waterproof the seams of your tent now and again. Perhaps I should have done that.
I began tracing the water courses in my tent walls and engineered a system to minimize the liquid damage; I’m glad I packed out duct tape! By the end my gear was dry and I was dry as long as I stayed on my inflated sleeping pad. It was my little life raft to keep me high and dry. There was just a little water in certain spots on the tent floor but I’d manage.
For a few hours it poured. I had dinner of dehydrated venison risotto of which I added instant mashed potatoes. Then I ate a ridiculous amount of KitKats. By dusk, the rain had ceased and things began to dry out. Who knows if the night would bring another monsoon.
Day’s Distance: 34km (21.1mi)
Total Distance: 1,178km (732.1mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,822km (1,132.4mi)
DAY 37 – Oio Road to Whakahoro
It didn’t rain again during the night. The contents of my tent were relatively dry. I packed up and rolled away my wet tent.
Tom and I set off down the road for an easy 25km into the town of Whakaporo. It was all gravel road (or metaled road as they say in New Zealand) and we made good time.
The scenery was beautiful as we followed a snaking river through the mountainous region. The river was extremely high and fast after all the rain.
The walk was uneventful. The skies had cleared and the sun was out. We dried our tents off and made it to Whakaporo before 1pm. The town has a stated population of eight people.
There was a cafe called the Blue Duck where we had lasagna for lunch. The rest of the afternoon was ours to relax. We were staying at the DOC (Department of Conservation) campground along the Whanganui River. Tomorrow we would begin a multi-day canoe trip down the river.
Several other hikers were lingering as their canoe trip got pushed back due to the high river levels. I hoped the river level would drop so we could disembark in the morn as planned.
The cafe offered showers of which we both enjoyed. It had been four days since my last and even more for Tom. We had considered doing laundry but all the machines were being used and only one dryer. I’ve been wearing the same pair of socks, underwear, shorts, and t-shirt for twelve days now without a wash. I think that was the longest I went on the Appalachian Trail without doing laundry and now I’m going to surpass that as we canoe down the river the next few days. It’s funny, I actually have a clean shirt and extra socks and underwear with me but it’s easier to just keep wearing the dirty stuff. Hiker trash for life! On the other hand, why am I carrying the extra weight in clothes I’m not wearing?!
My dinner was a starchy combination of two ramen noodle packs with instant potatoes. Some cheese and chocolate was also had. I enjoyed talking to some of the other hikers and hearing about their experiences on the TA. Apparently there were some that had worse weather on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing than what we experienced! There was one Aussie woman who’d hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. The latter Tom and I would like to hike someday. But let’s first focus on finishing the hike at hand; we still have yet to finish the North Island!
Day’s Distance: 25km (15.5mi)
Total Distance: 1,203km (732.1mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,797km (1,132.4mi)
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