Campsite Elevation: 608ft/185m
People ask me all the time why I thru-hike and I always say the same thing. For some reason, when I thru-hike, that is when, for the most extended amount of time, I get that feeling of being exactly in the right moment at the right time. Things flow and unfold in a way that there isn’t a resistance. Everything feels natural and effortless like that’s where I’m supposed to be. It may not happen all day everyday, but thru-hiking is where I get that feeling most consistently for the most extended periods of time. I compare it to the split-second feeling of hearing a basket swish or hitting a ball in a sport at that perfect sweet spot that happens maybe one out of ten times. Just imagine that split second feeling, but feeling it for multiple minutes, hours, or even days. That’s thru-hiking for me and it’s how I know that this is where I’m supposed to be. Something was off the last 24hrs and things didn’t feel right. It felt like we had just barely jumped over to a parallel track where things were very close to what they should be, but everything was just off kilter enough to feel like something was amiss or off. We needed a reset, and unbeknownst to us, it was well on the way!
I woke pretty early and didn’t sleep well. There are two logistical sections (Tongariro Crossing and Whanganui River Canoe) that, no matter how many permutations combinations I calculated in my mind, were not aligning right. It was just a gut feeling that something was off, but I didn’t know what to do to get it back on the right track. Weather was looking downright terrible for the Tongariro Crossing, which is a brief yet spectacular high alpine traverse that we will hit in three days walking. Not just bad weather, but well below freezing, snow, hail, rain, clouds, and gale force winds. It’s known for having extreme weather, and if we left as planned today, we’d be heading right into it in a few days.
I woke up resigned to the fact that we’d just walk like normal for the next couple days and then see how it unfolds with the option to hitch around and return in a couple days once it cleared. It is doable in poor conditions, but we walked all the way here for more than that and we want to at least try to make it happen on a good day. I woke early and watched a couple episodes of Survivor in the hopes of making things feel better. There was actually nice weather this morning at the Holiday Park, and we looked at the weather at the Crossing. It wasn’t ideal, but it also wasn’t as terrible as the day we would have gone. We impulsively decided to try hitching up there to do that stretch today. I’ve never done something like that on a thru-hike because I like a continuous thru, but we just had to try. Well, long story short, when we finally hitched close enough to see the conditions, it was totally unenjoyable and not at all advisable. Weather on the mountain was totally different from in town. It felt like we were forcing a piece that didn’t fit into this thru-hike puzzle. We hitched back to Taumarunui and decided to do our resupply for the upcoming leg on the Whanganui River so we could feel some kind of productive forward progress while I continued to think of some way to reset things to feel right again. Something was definitely off.
We bought the five days of food we’ll need to give the canoe company that will meet us next week with all our food, dry containers, and canoes. There are many options and companies for that section and I took the initiative to do all the legwork for the group we are going with. The thing is that the cheapest option is to go in with a group. The company we chose, Blazing Saddles, had the best deal for our large group size. We chose the seemingly most common option of putting in at Whakahoro in about a week and paddling five days to Whanganui. They charge $1000 per group and the cheapest they could do per person is $100 (if we had 10 or more). The Taumarunui Canoe company also comes highly recommended, and are very very kind and family owned, but the best they could give us for our situation was $200/person. $100 was an amazing deal for five days on the river!
Once we bought our food, we did the short section of the TA that walks from the grocery store to the Holiday Park…so we technically didn’t have a zero today, ha!I’ve accepted that the TA is a different kind of beast, and there is plenty of time, so these days of little to no mileage will be part of this experience. This trail is definitely more like a vacation in my mind. It’s helped me to see it that way and just relax about pacing. There are a lot of moving parts, and weather is a huge factor as well. There will be times that we can’t force sections until the timing is right, and waiting one more day has hopefully put us on that track.
By the time we returned to the Holiday Park, we got a couple hours to relax and I’m all caught up on Survivor! Becky has a yearly cold she tends to get when seasons change and got a nice long nap in. As evening came, the next wave of hikers came in, and it was the most amazing reset! All the thru-hikers have arrived and it’s such a bonded group with joy and great camaraderie; Vittoria, Matt/Softwalker, Laurel, Angelynn, Heartbreaker, Fritz, Tom, and Ned. The ten of us are all going in on the canoe hire together to launch canoes the same morning on the Whanganui River. We have also booked the same campsites for the first half of the canoe that require booking.We had tacos for dinner and they hit the spot. Then I stayed up too late as many of us gathered in the common area. We downloaded the book of questions off a recommendation from one of my blog readers and it was a great idea! We stayed up going through some of the questions and learning more about one another. Great conversation starters. A couple side notes…
Heartbreaker and Angelynn also headed up to the Crossing in an attempt to go through today. They got about 5km in and turned back knowing it was doable, but not worth the extra effort today. I am glad I walked up to see it for myself though. It may be great in town, but the weather up there is drastically different and more inclement.
Softwalker found my waterlogged MP3 player I had dropped in the forest the other day, and it actually dried out! Unfortunately, it will turn on, but it won’t play songs. I’ll keep checking and hoping it will work someday, but I have another one I ordered that I will get in a few weeks in Wellington. Until then, I have music and audiobooks on my phone…and the book of questions for Becky and me to work through:) What a great reset and day of rest. It seems things are back on track.