11/27 cont. The rest of our Day in Wanganui was lovely, we visited their museum and Jeff went back to the library to finish downloading some maps. I decided to lie outside in the sun and rest my eyes- apparently I looked a bit too restful as one of the librarians thought I'd passed out and brought me a bottle of water! Very much appreciated. We then caught another easy hitch from George (works for a farming insurance company and turns out we'd walked right by his house on a previous part of the trail! Farming in New Zealand's biggest industry and very well respected). Anyway, George dropped us at Caroline's Boathouse for dinner where our waiter cautioned us that portions were really large... Well, nothing is too large for through hikers and we cleaned our plates with room to spare. This meant ice cream! The official flavor here is "hokey pokey" and it's kind of like little crunchy balls covered in honey floating around in your ice cream. Magic. We got a huge tub and brought it back to the Holiday park for dessert. Full and happy it was time for bed. 11/28 The warmth and coziness of our double bed was interrupted by the sound of rain outside. Yet, no time to waist, we packed up and finished out tub of ice cream for breakfast before beginning a very long road walk out of town. It was really hard to turn down a young guy who even stopped and offered to drive us- but we wanted to walk the trail and... So we did. All 20 km of wet highway where 18 wheelers drove by and splashed us with gusts of water and wind. Luckily, the storm began to blow over as we entered Turakina. We ducked into a lovely antique shop (sans packs) to grab a cup of coffee. Here we were greeted by the kind and hospitable Shona. She took great care of us and even offered to have us for a night or two on the other end of our journey. The kiwi kindness continues. As the sun began to peak from behind the clouds we said good bye to Shona and her rooster Gordy and hit the not-so-dusty trail. More paved road led us to a lovely beach town and to an amazing black sand beach! The volcanic debris from eruptions had turned the sands black. The black sand was contrasted sharply by huge white chunks of pine drift wood that had been washed down river after logging. It was a sculptors dreamland and Jeff was in heaven. We even found an old piano washed up on shore! Our afternoon brightened and sparked with creativity, we trod happily down the beach until the trail cut away into the beautiful Santoff Forest. Tall pines and numerous camping options, we were glad our day evened on plush pine needles and not with continued showers. 11/29 Early on in our hike, Jeff had one morning killed a spider on my pack for me. Since that day, I have been CURSED by spiders. Almost every morning as I pack my things into my bag, one will crawl out of some pocket and ruin any sort of morning bliss that I might be feeling. Today was no exception- but today's spider was the size of a silver dollar coin (am I dating myself? Will youths get that reference?) needless to say, I let out a blood curdling shriek and one again called upon my valiant husband to do away with horrifying, mosquito killing arachnid. Shaken, but happy to see the sun shining, we packed camp and hit the road, for more roads. Road walking is just terrible- the hours drag on, your feet blister on the hot, punishing tar and you notice every other minor discomfort tenfold. Our walk this morning though, led us through the fun town of Bulls! They are quite fond if onus here and their environment is "sustain- a-bull", their nurseries are "love-a-bull" and their police force is led by the "consta-bull"! Very unforgeta-bull ;) After Bulls there were just roads, roads and more roads. Finally we came upon a BMX race that might have been the highlight of our day, until a care pulled over up ahead. We thought they must be going to see the race, then all of a sudden- I recognized these people! It was Jesse, the 15 yr old from Whakahoro and his dad! In the middle of a country were we know NO ONE, a familiar face pulls off the road. Amazing. They offered to have us for dinner and to stay for the night at their house in Palmerston Nth. They had been looking for Audrey and found us instead. Thankfully, Audrey was safe in Bulls and after we continued walking for a bit, Barney (Jesse's dad) came and collected us and brought us back go their beautiful home for an incredible meal cooked by his wife Rose and daughter Elise. It was the thanksgiving feast we'd missed and we are so grateful for their generosity. We also got to chat with a fellow American, Ryan, who is on the TA from Nebraska and will be canoeing the Wanganui river with Jesse. Barney and Jesse also gave us great insight on the next section of our hike, the Tararua peaks, which was very helpful. Hiker chats, beer and full bellies. What more could one ask for? 11/30 If there's one thing I crave most on the trail, it's my dad's eggs. Perfectly poached, with buttered toast and sautéed tomatoes. Just the perfect breakfast. Well- lo and behold- at 5:45 in the morning, Jeff and I wake in a warm guest bed at Jesse's and what has his mom made for breakfast? EXACTLY THAT! Plus giant slabs of thick cut bacon... We were in heaven. Barney and Rose manage a cafe in Palmerston and they treated us like kings with incredible service and fantastic food. I don't think a vacuum cleaner could have eaten that meal faster. Barney dropped us back on the trail on his way to work and we headed up towards some of our most difficult hiking yet. But today's trek was still pretty mild, leading up through some scenic forests where we came upon a man surveying for birds and deer for conservation purposes. This track broke on another gravel road that led past a reservoir and up to some more climbing in the woods. We had some great views of Palmerston before descending on MANY stream crossings. Enter, one of the more frustrating aspects of hiking. So- you come upon a steam. There are rocks placed conveniently so you don't get your boots wet. You walk across those rocks and feel happy. Then another stream, more rocks. Another stream, more rocks. Another steam, a fallen tree that you teeter across before getting your hair ripped out by a thorn bush only to fall into slick, deep mud that covers your pants and hands as you break your fall. Now- you're pissed, but, your feet are still dry. Then- there comes that one stream that's completely uncrossable and you would have to take off your muddy shoes, walk barefoot, and then put them back on, so at this point you think, screw it, and trudge into the water, negating ALLL the work you'd just done navigating around and over all previous streams. At last the trail broke into a small field and we set up camp amongst many sand flies. Over all a good day, but those streams, man. Those. Streams.
Thanksgiving!!! And a bunch of pics of me with food.
Black sand beach
Our wonderful hosts!