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January 9th
Queen Charlotte/Tawa Bay(1062.1)-Torea Saddle(1087.6)
Mileage: 25.5mi/41km
Campsite Elevation: 1001ft/305m

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook Hikes Te Araroa App.

I was up and out this morning at 6:40am, before either Becky or Christophe woke up. I took a solo day two weeks ago, but it was just for the day, and I camped with the group. Today, I set off for 5 days on my own, and I don’t anticipate overlapping with any other TA walkers. It feels like forever since it’s felt like a true solo day, so I looked back to see what day it was. It was on Day 7, 60 days ago, the day before Becky and I started hiking together (we met two days before that). It hit me that this is actually the longest I’ve ever partnered with another hiker. Back when I did the PCT, Top Shelf and I were together for 52 days, and I paired with E on the GDT for 48 days. Two months is really something I didn’t think I was capable of, ha! It’s been fun and I do think that having Becky to share the North Island with definitely enhanced that experience. We’ll be back together in 5 days, but as I explained yesterday, I was able to get a permit to do the Abel Tasman Track. Becky has plans to do that track sometime after the Te Araroa, so I’m going to do it solo. I’m going to move on ahead and do bigger days on both the Queen Charlotte Track (on the Te Araroa) and the Abel Tasman, and meet back up with Becky in five days. In the meantime, she will do a relaxed leg on the Queen Charlotte, and take a zero in town. 

*Side note: Is anyone aware of an online data sheet for the Abel Tasman? All I have are the distances that the DOC pamphlet has and it only gives distances every 12km or so. I can’t figure out exactly how many kilometers I’ll be going and it would help me to time out the tide if I had something more specific that would give me more detailed distances between each campsite rather than about four of them. Feel free to email me a photo of one if there is a good distance chart in a guidebook or something. I’m sure I’ll also just run into a ton of others on the track and someone is bound to have something more detailed.  

Today was the Queen Charlotte Track cruise. I don’t think there’s been a full day of wide clear track like this all trail. It really is in prime cruising condition. It is a hard clay terrain that is a bit firm compared to a preferred dirt or pine needle track, but it’s still great to stretch my legs on and cruise. To give a better idea of what this track does, I’ve taken a photo of the map on the pamphlet for the Queen Charlotte Track. You can click on it to see it bigger. 

Picton is at the bottom. We took the water taxi up Queen Charlotte Sound yesterday to be dropped off at Ship Cove just off the map in the upper right. The track follows the length of the land between the Queen Charlotte Sound and the Kenepuri Sound. I started off this morning on the far end of Endeavour Inlet. My early morning was spent hiking around that inlet. I am in my zombie state from my period and feel pretty zapped without much of a spring in my step. The hike around the inlet felt like it was never going to end.

Endeavour Inlet is quite the hub of tourism apparently. There were a lot of private accommodations with side paths leading to them, along with piles of kayaks and various types of boats for tourists to use. There were also random picnic tables and viewing spots with benches all day. 

It was an interesting juxtaposition around Endeavour Inlet in particular where there were a lot of signs of accommodations or things for sale hikers might want. It was kinda like billboards along a highway. 

There were a fair amount of tourists out for the day, some runners, and some mountain bikers. Few backpackers seemed to be out for the whole track, but I did pass a handful it seemed. The only TA walker I met was a woman that just started yesterday planning to do the South Island. Overall, it was a quiet and calm day. 

I had lunch on the trail with a view looking down on Kenepuru Sound. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the afternoon was spent hiking down closer along the Kenepuru Sound. The path is a good variety of wooded hiking and views. 

Kenepuru Sound

As you can see, there are many inlets, so it can often feel like the same view, but it’s a different Inlet. 

There was a fair amount of elevation change, but nothing too strenuous. I was groggy all day and just felt like I was out of gas, so the day sorta dragged. I just need to ride it out a day or two more and my energy should be back. It was quite warm today, which is not a condition we’ve had much on the TA thus far. It was in the low 80sF/27C and tomorrow is forecast to be upper 80sF/30C.  

Closer to Kenepuru Sound

At the end of the day, I passed a Dept of Conservation (DOC) campsite called Black Rock Campsite that was packed. It isn’t far from a parking area, so many families seemed to be there. It had a great view on each side of the ridge of each sound. 

The final climb up to my camp spot for the day kicked my butt with how I was feeling. I don’t usually sweat a bunch, but my shirt and back pad on my pack was soaked when I stopped today. I lucked out with my camp spot. You never quite know what you’ll get, and I was prepared to have to hike further if it was too exposed because the wind picked up again at the end of the day. It turned out to be perfectly sheltered. It even rained a bit and hopefully released some of the humidity. The wind was gusting pretty strong, and I can still hear it now hitting the trees, but thankfully the tent is fully shielded and hardly even moving. 

This is just the third night all trail that I’ve been camped solo. The last night I was solo was on Day 5. It’s been awhile and feels good to have some extended space both physically and mentally to just zone out and be on autopilot. It does feel odd to hike on the TA without Becky though. It feels like the two have become synonymous for me out here. We messaged, and she had a good relaxing half day of hiking, and is camped with Christophe again. I got to watch two episodes of Modern Family tonight. I was pretty wiped out and fell asleep writing with wind and rain lulling me to sleep. I awoke having sweat thru my pjs a bit. My body is just hot and uncomfortable. It isn’t that warm, but my body is just overheated this time of the month, so I have that cold sweat thing going that’s annoying but not unusual. Welp, that’s about it for today. Finishing up the Queen Charlotte Track tomorrow. 

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