Before setting out I enjoyed the morning light
as it dried out my clothes from yesterday.
So peaceful out here. I was actually thinking where are all the other millions of people in the world? Why are they not here to enjoy this too? A couple of hours later my question would be firmly answered as I felt like throwing in the towel once I was deep into the Raetea Forest. The hike out of Takahue was pleasant enough as the gravel road gradually took me higher and higher.
Closing in on the Raetea Forest the track became quite steep and the mud just got deeper and deeper. From the trail notes I knew that the orange markers on this section of trail are not to be relied on. GPS is recommended and I had it turned on. Little did I know how tough, overgrown and unpleasant this trail would become. Orange markers were placed where the trail was obvious. Seconds later the trail would just vanish into thick tangled vines countless times over, with not an orange marker in sight.
Perhaps I lost the trail up to 30 times over on this 10km forest section. Each time this would cost me anywhere up to 10 minutes to find the way again. I expected all of this but not to this extent. I could easily have done with another two litres of water on top of the four that I set off with (no water at all on the ridge as mentioned in the trail notes).
Towards the east end of this trail, heading for SH1, the orange markers became less frequent and pink spray paint dots took their place. This was quite confusing to begin with but was nice to have pink dots than nothing at all. At first I thought the pink dots identified poison traps as it’s often the colour used for such trapping.
Definitely not an enjoyable day and don’t recommend it to anyone until the trail gets marked up correctly! With light fading, several kilometres to go and nowhere at all to pitch a tent I felt the pressure. As bright as my headlamp is – I would not like to find my way through this forest with it after sundown. It’s an incredibly dense forest and the vines love grappling with backpacks. Crawling was sometimes a way out. I was totally spent by the end of it. Nice to be out of there which is a first for me as I’ve always relished rainforest trails.