Day 57. Mount Lees Reserve – Palmerston North. 34km. Total 1476km
The third day of road walking is hard on me. I can’t stop asking myself why I am doing it especially with my blisters and sore feet. I feel tired and sad, homesick for the first time in New Zealand. Towns often make me feel like this, seeing everyone with friends in cafes and all the lovely houses makes me miss my own “home” especially with the Christmas time. But I know once I am back in the “wilderness” especially in the Tararua ranges I will be fine again. Plus I will meet very soon my friends!!! As always no matter how I feel there is only one thing to do: continue hiking, setting one foot after the other on hard asphalt, avoiding cars and moving on. As I started before 6am there aren’t many cars but the closer I get to Fielding the harder it gets.
Once there I treat myself to a flat white and apple pie to hopefully brightening up my day. I head out of Fielding passing the biggest livestock market in the Southern hemisphere. Although Friday is the weekly selling day nothing is happening (yet?) so I continue. Roads and more bad mood. I even need to cross a river as the TA takes us away from the road for 15 minutes through high grass and this river just to be back on the road afterwards. Not sure it was better than taking actually the road and bridge. At Bunnythorpe, a tiny village and birthplace of Glaxo in 1904, I buy an ice cream. It’s so hot today. More road, shortly interrupted by some farmland and gates just to annoy me more today.
Final road stretch before the 6km Manawatu river pathway. I look forward to finally arriving at the homestay. Brian and Paula are trail angels, letting hikers stay at their home for koha (donation). Hopefully that will cheer me up. I still need to walk from their place the 2.5km into town and back for my resupply and see what the Bivouac store can do about my shoes which are ripped at the heel from the inside. At least the Manawatu river pathway is very nice with good views so I listen to music and try to enjoy the view and forget my feet (walking in sandals now).
At 3pm I finally reach the homestay, yeay. Paula gives me a warm welcome and due to my blisters drives me into town for the shoes and resupply. At Bivouac the guy is very friendly and calls the manager who agrees to replace the shoes! I hope that the new but same shoes will at least improve my blisters on the heels. Then off to Pack’n’Save for resupply. Thanks to Paula’s tip I called the Makahika Adventure Centre which offers free tent or bunk bed accommodation to hikers and which I should reach in 2 days / 62km. They are very kind and offered to take me to Levin for resupply once I arrive so now I only need to buy 2 days of food (and not 7!). I buy salad and tomatoes and cucumber and apples and chocolate and Brokkoli and sauce and end up with a heavy backpack anyway just so I can eat fresh stuff (and of course I bought far too much anyway). Paula takes us back home where Brian arrived in the meantime. They are preparing dinner and we talk. Brian is actually one of the people maintaining the trail and he knows it very well. Dinner is so delicious and fresh, just what I love and crave: fish baked in the oven on carrots with ginger, potatoes, salad, followed by fruits. My bad mood has completely disappeared. I can sleep in my own room and have to get into bed at 9pm. Getting always up at 5am means I am tired Berlin, early!
Day 58. Palmerston North – Burtton Track Wahare. 36km. Total 1512km
I wake up early again and try to not make too much noise while packing up. I prepare myself a tea and around 7am say goodbye to my trail angels Paula and Brian. The sun is shining and it’s already warm. I cross the bridge and am soon on a nice little trail leading me through town where lots of people are running or taking out their dogs.
I felt fine when getting up but now I am so tired and feel lonely again. I soon stop for my breakfast, bread rolls with hummus. Then I drag myself along further. On a short road section, a woman stops and asks me if I am Canadian. She has taken in yesterday a hiker with knee problems and he needs to rest a few days. Apparently a Canadian should come through today and she has been watching out. I tell her how tired I feel and she said says I should rest and take a day off. But I have my Wellington due date of December 20 and even though I can easily make it in good weather, the Tararua ranges might make me wait out some bad weather. So I continue as always but have to promise to the nice woman to be kind to myself.
The trail leads away from the road through a very nice regrowing section with a new bridge. Then some more road fading into a track and back on a road until I finally reach the picnic place at noon. I enjoy my salad, cook coffee and drink a lot of water infused with a tea bag as there is a stream and it’s still pretty hot (although dark clouds are coming in!). At 1pm I continue a few kilometers further to the start of the Back Track.
There are many mountain bike trails and as it’s Saturday I already met a number of bikers today. It’s raining now but I feel better after my break. Also I am reaching just few kilometers further the 1500km mark. I have made half of the trail. I am proud and a bit emotional. The trail gives and takes so much. It takes sometimes all the strength I have but at the same time gives me much more. Confidence, beautiful moments, amazing nature, the most friendly trail angels… Picture time with my fern 1500 and a little fern crown for Queen B. B for Bush, Bad ass, Bettina. Uh well, if no one is there I can get crazy all by myself 😉
The trail ends soon later and I follow a road down the hill to the start of the Burtton Track. It leads first through logged area where there is still some activity, but not on a Saturday. It’s raining more and more. After an hour I reach the DOC forest area and enter the bush with (surprise!) mud. It’s getting late afternoon and I want to stop soon.
The logged area wasn’t suitable but the bush is very dense and I also need water. I was told the trail is going by some stream but on the map I realise it’s only crossing streams after a few kilometers – which can mean hours in the bush. I can still walk fairly fast and hope to be able to camp at the Burtton Wahare. I am not sure what it is but it’s described at the ideal place for lunch. And that it will take me 3.5h from entry to there (meaning I would be there only at 7.30pm). So I walk on and on to the first stream I need to cross. It doesn’t look too difficult but then I slip on a stone and find myself in the water. Well, I was kind of wet already with the rain… I fill up on water in case I am getting to a good campsite early. But there are many more river crossings to come and it looks as if there is plenty of rain to come. As always, it’s not recommended to cross rivers after heavy rain, so should I continue and make all crossings today? My feet are also already wet. I walk on and on to the “real” and bigger Tokomaru river which I need to cross, then on private land 15-20 minutes according to the trail notes (which appear endless). There are some nice clearings with grass, good for camping on a dry day but I am not sure if this is allowed. And I know I need to cross that river again. Just before I can see a small shed or something so I walk there, calling out but no one is there. It seems someone is working there, making it bigger and the room is pretty full with tools and other stuff. Could I sleep here in this dry room? The door opens and I stand under the shelter for 10 minutes, longing to just stay here but also knowing it’s private area and I cannot just use it. It’s hard but I leave the safe and dry shed for the river, crossing it one last time while the rain pours on me. After the crossing it’s just 5 minutes to the Wahare, an open clearing with a small information board. OK, I was hoping for some kind of shelter but it’s not for me today. At least there is a small space in the bush to set up my tent. It’s now 7pm and quickly I crawl in there, trying to keep the wet stuff out of the tent and getting my wet clothes off and dry on before cooking dinner almost inside my tent, yummy Brokkoli with some soy-honey sauce and couscous. Well, I am getting better at this now even though of course I don’t like the rain set up. But at least I know I can stay at the Outdoor centre tomorrow and hopefully drying my stuff. It’s pouring now and I can’t even be bothered brushing my teeth somewhere outside. The rain is making so much noise on my tent and I am happy to be warm and inside a shelter even if it’s just a tent. The wind blows and the river is noisy plus the pouring rain, hopefully I can sleep and wake up to a better day.