Day 322...Heck of a Hike!

Sunrise is always a good time to head out to these wild West Coast beaches for an early morning walk and this morning, Martin joined me, so I was a tad late getting onto the beach this morning! We had to sidestep up and over the many tyre marks where people had been having lots of off-road fun in their utes and other vehicles. With the result that much of the beach was looking like a sand race track. We walked as far as the river and stood looking at a very stuck-in- the-sand ute across the other side. Something that presumably happened late last night, but we couldn’t get any closer to investigate further. We turned and walked back in the cold wind towards the campsite at Koitiata then made way too much noise getting out the dishes and breakfast stuff in Cuzzie so that Anna had no other choice but to get up and join us as well!

While they ate their bread, jam and cheese breakfasts, I talked, did some dishes and then made some really bad pancakes that were just about edible but certainly not pretty or in picture-perfect cookbook condition. We had a very vague plan for a hike today but firstly, we needed to fill up our water tank and secondly, get some details from the local I-site in Whanganui. Once that was sorted out, but feeling only half successful so far as the available information was concerned, off we headed up the Whanganui River Rd, to hike a little of the Atene Skyline Track. Supposedly, it would take two hours for the short walk and six to eight hours for the full hike. As we were running a little late, we felt the full day hike might be a little too much.

We hit the track at 11.30am but, as we climbed up the first section over farm land, clay tracks and past heaps of rather unattractive gorse, we seemed to be at the top rather more quickly than the expected DOC timings, so we agreed to push on and do the entire track. I was keen to get at least halfway in time for a late lunch, so off we went, hoping that we wouldn’t end up by taking the whole eight hours! We climbed and walked along the highest points of this ridge, with amazing views, lots of lung-busting steps and, just when we thought we were at the highest peak, we realised that there was still another one to go.

The track did become far more interesting and, even up on the ridge, we were surrounded by native bush. We saw lots of goats on this track and heard even more of them off-track in the bush. We finally made it to the last trig station, up lots of steep steps, our lungs needing to breathe deeply and our legs hating the continual up, up, up. Then it was across, up and down, till we got to the end of the ridge and started a very steep, knee-jarring decent to the road followed by a couple of kilometres hike back to Cuzzie. Even with a stop for lunch and with 16 kms covered, it had taken us only 5hrs 30mins, arriving back just on 4pm. Nice work team!

After chocolate bars for all, more water and a plan for our overnight stopover, we headed back into Whanganui and then out to the Castlepoint campsite. With Cuzzie powered up, dinner underway and a long, hot shower for me, Anna and Martin headed to the on-site hot tub and sauna rooms. All in all, a good, hard hike and I’m satisfied with this day. Perhaps not as satisfied as I might have been had I had been able to get out paddling, but I’ve visited another new location and done a new track (and a memorable one at that). If there is such a thing, maybe I should be a new track reviewer for DOC! 

There were a few sadder moments today, as we passed by a couple of dead lambs and a dead baby goat but there was nothing we could do except keep moving on. As I hiked, I also thought about how far I still have to go and, typically of me, I have again broken it down in my mind into small, achievable goals so that, hopefully, I can be home for Xmas. But, as ever, Mother Nature is in total control, so I’ll just have to wait and see.

My smiles today:
Lambs everywhere we looked.
Hiking among the hills and peaks of Whanganui.
The roadsides covered in daffodils.
Leftovers for dinner. Yum!
Long, hot shower at the end of a day’s tough hiking.
The reward of a dark chocolate Sante bar at the end of it.

My thoughts today.
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in, day out.

Goodnight from Red and the team. Ma Te Wa.

Views from the tramp.

Views from the tramp.

High up in the sky.

High up in the sky.