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Mackerel Forest

What a beautiful gold sunrise over Ngunguru estuary this morning! Pity I have to walk 13km all the way round by road to get about 2 or 3 km south of where I currently am. Mary who owned the B&B offered me her small row-boat. She said I could row it over to her sons place across the estuary. I liked the idea of it.

The only problem was that there would be another bit of land in the way before getting to Horahora River and how would I then cross that? So that plan was scratched. Her son James later met me on the road and offered me a lift to another trail but I said I would keep walking. I thought it was really nice of him to stop and talk about the options available.

My trail notes said that the Mackerel Forest Track was open so into the forest I went. A few days later I checked the trail notes online and saw that they had closed this section. Someone must have complained about it after I had printed the notes and I could see why the trail was now closed (because nobody can get through it without having to make their own trail!).

I could hardly get through the overgrown mess that lay in my way. Such thick gorse! My options were to jump into the deep river which I tested with my poles. The river had thick mud in areas too, which my boots got stuck in on a few occasions and I really struggled to get out of it. What to do? Do I turn back after all the effort of getting here?

The day was coming to an end so a plan had to be made. I’ll keep pushing through all these thorns. Scratched up and really fed up with this trail. This is not hiking! From now on I’m going to bypass any trail that has the word overgrown in it’s description. My backpack took a real beating because I wore it in front of me to shield off as many thorns and prickles as possible. I had no way of seeing what my feet were doing and several times I nearly fell face first into the thorny gorse because my feet got tangled up in the undergrowth. Why would anyone declare this trail open? I cursed here and there.

The trail was different to the one on the map too which was confusing. I eventually found my way out of
that mess and when I climbed back to the top of the hill I could see over the other side to where I had started
the forest track 1.9km way. What! All that bush bashing and hours later I am less than 2km away.
How annoying! But at that moment a great sunset was unfolding. This was my reward I thought.

The sunset lasted for a long time and the colours just kept getting stronger and stronger. I was happy to be viewing such an amazing display of colours from up on the hill where all the forest trees had been felled.

I scraped away at the ground to make it level enough for my tent and I set up after dark. A full moon was out so no need for a headlamp tonight. I was too tired for dinner. My legs felt sunburnt from all the thorns tearing away at them throughout the day. Tomorrow will be a better day although a lot of it will be road walking.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Norm #

    Move over Bear Grylls……….Kenyon is the new action man…….did you eat anything….like crawling and alive………?

    I can imagine your dismay at discovering the somewhat short distance actually travelled after such an effort, it must be a tad disheartening to say the least, but as you say the reward of a beautiful sunset is a reward in its own special way.

    Once again it would seem that you have been fortunate enough to have met some amazingly kind and friendly people. I suppose you’re a bit of a novelty in the sense of doing the trail, whereas in a couple of years time I expect they’ll have seen many trampers go by and the novelty factor migh wear off a touch.

    So how is the pack holding up, given the wear and tear, will it last the distance? What pack are you using by the way?

    I know the feeling only too well when you feel too tired to even eat, unfortunately you’ll feel even worse the next day if you don’t so I guess you’ve really got to force yourself to have something, just to keep the calories up.

    I’d be very interested to know what percentage of the trail has been road walking as opposed to actual tracks? Personally I don’t like road surfaces simply because they’re too regular and that’s when I get foot and knee problems, especially blisters………which reminds me…….how are your blisters holding up? Still using the moleskins for protection? Did you ever get around to trying the Compeed plasters? Worked wonders for me…!

    Once again its been a delight to read your journal and we look forward to the next installment.

    In the meantime, stay well and safe travels

    Norm and LQ

    Thursday 1 December, 2011
    • Hi Norm! It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to reply to anyone. I have a phone with me but often there is no mobile coverage on the trail so it’s been a matter of catching up on replies when in towns. Arriving in a town on a Sunday or just not at the right time can add to the delay of replying too.

      Sorry to disappoint you. No crawling insects or alive animals make up my diet. Like most people I tend to think of Bear Grylls as a comedian more than anything else. I am quite enjoying Back Country Cuisine. Each food drop has one type of Back Country dinner in it and I pour all of them into one zip lock bag for the next section coming up. I also have dried vegetables and mash potato – your favorite. One Square Meals bars are a favorite plus the usual snacks that you would find hikers carrying.

      So – to date there have only been a few trails that have been frustrating to deal with and I’m happy with that. Overall the trail has been incredible and I’m very glad to be hiking it. I can see what an enormous effort it would be to organise such a trail.

      Yes, the people have all been great so far. I agree that soon there will be a lot more Te Araroa walkers. I have only met two other people who have walked a good chunk of it. It would be nice to meet more people doing the same trail but I feel very much alone.

      The pack I have is an Aarn Effortless Rhythm 75L. A 75 litre pack seems overkill but I accounted for some of the longer sections which could take up to two weeks to get through (if there is a delay due to weather). The pack needed some modifications which I can tell you about another time as that would take a while to type. I am not using the front packs that are recommeded with this particular pack.

      Yes, I still get blisters every now and then and like you I find that the road walking certainly does bring them on. Compeed works well for me too but I find that hikers wool is the one thing I use more than any thing else.

      Well, I wish I could reply to comments quicker but given the nature of this adventure I’m just going to reply when I can. On the South Island I know that there will be more time between updates and replies.

      I hope you are doing well and I look forward to catching up with you when I’m back.

      Bye for now,
      Kenyon

      Tuesday 27 December, 2011
      • Norm #

        Mr Kenyon

        I fully understand the difficulties associated with trying to keep us all updated and not for one moment do I expect to hear from you unless you have the time to do it, so please, don’t worry, I just like asking questions that’s all………plus I’m genuinely interested in your welfare of course.

        Thanks for the info on the pack and the food. I was thinking that it might be an Aarn, but wasn’t sure…..you must have mentioned it to me at some stage. Why not the front pockets…..afterall I thought that was the whole point of the Aarn system…….counter-balance…?

        It’s good to hear the positives in your blogs, the beauty that you have had the privilige of seeing first0hand and that despite the obvious lonliness that will inevitably pervade on ocassion, it still very much appears that the good by far outweighs the ‘bad’ (though I would suggest that ‘bad’ is too strong a word perhaps……?)

        So where did you actually spend Christmas day? And what treat did you allow yourself for a Christmas dinner?

        As for us………well I was working, as usual and LQ went over to her brothers…..and my Christmas treat to myself……….a toasted cheese sandwich……now that’s what I call a Christmas dinner.

        And a note on your parting comment………”when I get back”…….for I sincerely hope that we shall catch up before you’ve finished…….remember……we had planned to meet up somewhere on the South Island next March………? And when we do, we may also have company…….!!!

        Anyway, keep the updates coming and stay healthy and happy, as I know you will.

        All the very best

        Norm and LQ

        Tuesday 27 December, 2011
      • Hi Norm,

        Yes, it’s been a very busy time and I thought I’d have more access to internet along the way as well as more time to keep in touch. I will still be able to reply although they will be shorter than before as I have some miles to catch up on.

        I decided against the front pockets of the Aarn backpack because I made my own harness for a camera pack which sits in front of me. I did try the front balance packs but really wanted to take my own camera bag set-up.

        I spent Christmas on Main Beach up on the Gold Coast. It was a quick flight there and back which gave me 5 days with the family. The time went all too quickly and before I knew it I was back on the trail. I really noticed the time I’d taken off when I hit the first hill.

        That is so funny about your Christmas dinner being a cheese sandwich. I hope you managed to fit some real Christmas pudding in at least.

        I’ve been looking very forward to hiking with you indeed. My comment “when I get back” was more that I’ll be able to tell you more about the trail through photos and maps etc which I won’t have with me when we are hiking this great land. I’m looking forward to telling you more about the sections of Te Araroa that I think are a must. I met a guy yesterday who is hitching all the road sections and getting straight onto the tracks and trails. I can definitely see the merit in that way of doing the trail but I’m happy to be doing the entire lot. Perhaps I might try that way on another trail somewhere. Still to date I’m enjoying the road sections too. It’s all scenic here as you know.

        OK, bye for now Norm. I’d like to think that you had a Christmas dinner even if it was a belated one… and now you have me thinking about toasted cheese sandwiches. Now where am I going to get one of those?

        Wednesday 4 January, 2012
      • Norm #

        Hey Mr Kenyon

        A nig ask I know but where are you planning to be on or abouts the third week in March….? I guess it’s a long ways off and much can happen in the meantime but if all goes to plan you might just have a sneeky suspicion as to your intended trail for this particular week.

        Obviously the reason for asking is because we’re coming over to tramp with you for a week and need to know where you’ll be so as to arrange transport to that point, and of course, transport back to the airport afterwards.

        I trust that all is well and that you will be taking a well earned break to celebrate the dawn of a new year? Where will this be?

        Look forward to your next installment and stay safe young man

        All the best

        Norm and LQ

        Saturday 31 December, 2011

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