In the past 4 days we hiked/drove from Palmerston North to Lower Hutt and covered 63,5 kilometres on the Te Araroa Trail.
Nadine: finally some proper tramping tracks again, encounters
Philippe: stress fracture and forced break
Nadine: forced break
Please note: The stated kilometres are approximate. The hiking times are pure walking times, without breaks. On average we take 1,5 – 2 hours breaks during the day. The smiley’s describe our mental, the muscle arm our physical state. 10/10 is the best.
You find our actual pictures from the trail on Instagram.
Day 60: Palmerston North to Gordon Kear Forest
29,5 kilometres, 6h30min
We wanted a slow start. We did 29.5km anyway. But we took our time, made longer breaks and walked slower. However, we wanted to reach the 1500km mark today 😊. We did it and with that half of the Te Araroa is done! Another 200km on the North Island and 1300km on the South Island.
My damaged body was okay. Surely I still feel the pains, but the rest days in Palmy were of good use. Maybe I’ll even get better because I changed two things. New shoes with the original insoles. Maybe the sport insoles from Auckland were the origin of my hurting hips/thigh. In return I’ll get blisters again. And you won’t believe it: The ULA Circuit backpack has a spine shaped aluminium bar in the frame. It slipped out of its retainer and so supported the wrong back parts. How long it has been like this, I can’t tell. Maybe something changes with my shoulder now, or not…
Btw the route was okay. Roads, MTB trails, gravel etc. And the weather was fine and warm.
Half of the Te Araroa Trail (1500 km) lies behind us! And half of it still ahead of us 😉
Even though we had issues witch our bodies lately, I still believe that we can do it.
Today was a good start after the long break. Some roads, some trails and a few gentle ups and downs. We tried not to go full-on for the beginning. My feet did complain a bit because of the heavy backpack (food for 6-7 days), but my shin luckily didn’t make itself felt.
Day 61: Gordon Kear Forest to shortly before Poulton Drive
30,5 kilometres, 9h35min
Sometimes I fear that my best-before-date of my body only lasts until the end of the North Island. Something always hurts. After my shoulder and hip are getting better, it’s now my foot’s turn. Today every step hurt. And if my foot was wrongly positioned, a stinging pain occurred, which brought tears to my eyes. Therefore we made slow progress and were on the feet for 12 hours. Nadine had to wait several times during the last 5 hours. That sucks! The change between highs (nothing hurts, great trail-day) and lows (everything hurts) makes it mentally strenuous.
It was a beautiful day – almost too hot. The Burttons Track and the Makahika Track lead through native forest and over many hills. We crossed a lot of streams and rivers. And at one viewpoint we could actually see Mt. Taranaki and the West coast. The mud kept within reasonable limits. But this damned foot muted all the impressions to a minimum. It sucks enormously and I fear the road parts on the North Island did a lot of damage.
Today was tough. Despite the splendid weather we didn’t really pick up pace. We only made slow progress, which felt strange and kind of demotivating after so many kilometres on roads, where we could burn off the kilometres so quickly.
At around 5 p.m. I would have been ready to camp, but it took us three more hours until we found water and a suitable campspot. At least there’s a pit toilet nearby 😉
Yet the track was really quite wonderful. Finally we were on proper tramping tracks again! I felt how much better they were for my feet and legs than roads… But Philippe developed a sore foot nonetheless. We’ll have to wait and see how he feels tomorrow.
Day 62: Shortly before Poulton Drive to Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre
3,5 kilometres, 1h
For 3,5 kilometres I limped to the Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre. There we decided to hitch to Levin to go and see a doctor. John and Sally are known Trail Angels and weren’t surprised when we knocked on their door. It was her birthday and the whole family gathered in the kitchen. They consented to drive us to Levin immediately. But before they organised an appointment (it was a holiday) and served us a second breakfast. I think we both were shocked and speechless.
In Levin we “had to” kill time until the appointment in a café and then waited for quite a while in the Medical Centre. The doctor (a feet-doctor, yeah) suspected a “spontaneous fracture”. In the worst case this would mean four weeks of pausing. We will learn more tomorrow after the x-ray. So no reason to panic yet. 😕
Philippe’s foot wasn’t better. So we finished our walking day at Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre. Shortly after we’d arrived Sally and John, two Trail Angels, took us to Levin to the Medical Centre where Philippe got an appointment in the afternoon (thanks to Sally – it’s a holiday). Before we left for the doctors Sally turned to me and said: “You know, we could get rid of his body. We’ll get you a new one. One that isn’t broken!” 😉
Indeed, it was frustrating to hang around in town, while in the background the mighty Tararua Ranges set apart from the blue sky. That’s where we could be right now! But when the body doesn’t want to…
The doctor couldn’t make a clear diagnosis, Philippe will have to get an x-ray done tomorrow. We can stay at the Outdoor Centre with Sally and John. It’s nice to have supporting people around you in such situations.
I’m anxious to hear the diagnosis and about how it will affect our journey.
Day 1 off the trail: Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre to Wellington / Lower Hutt
0 kilometres (hitchhiking)
We stayed with Sally and John in the Makahika Outdoor Centre. The hospitality and helpfulness was as often overwhelming. In the morning we sat together for coffee, when we suddenly heard laughter from the road. It took Nadine a second to get up and run up to the road to head off Michael, Emily and her boyfriend. It was nice to see familiar faces and to exchange hiker-talk. We even could help them out with an extra day of food for the Tararua Ranges.
Then it was time to get to Levin again. It would be a long and attritional stay in the Medical Centre. Lots of patients, IT-problems and the usual chaos. After four hours I had the x-ray and blood test done and got the diagnosis of an unusual inflammation. Lucky me, I thought…
After that we hitched from Levin to Lower Hutt, where we can stay with Debby and Rob for three nights. We’d met them on the Lara Pinta Trail in Australia. And both did the Te Araroa in 2012. It was about to be an interesting time. In the evening we were sitting together in the lounge when my phone rang. It was the doctor from Levin. A specialist had a look at my x-ray. I do have a subtle fracture (stress fracture) in the metatarsal after all. That was a downer! Indeed, I was a bit shocked, but I could pull myself together. He organised an appointment at the Hutt Hospital. I would get a so called “moon boot”. Surprisingly, the atmosphere wasn’t too gloomy afterwards. That’s what had happened and I will wait until tomorrow when I’ll get my final verdict.
While we had coffee with Sally and John, unexpectedly Michael, Emily and her boyfriend came past. That means, we could hear their laughter in the distance and I went up to meet them at the road. I brought them down to the patio, where Sally served us all a second breakfast. Michael, Emily and Tristan also had calculated their food for the Tararua Ranges a bit lean – or had planned the time to walk through it a bit ambitiously – so we gave them some of our rations. After all we wouldn’t need them or could buy new food in Levin.
After that, Sally drove us to the Medical Centre in Levin once more. Four hours later we stepped out into the sunshine again. According to the doctor it isn’t a fracture, “just” an unusual inflammation of the tissue around a tendon. So since this would mean to rest for a couple of days anyway we hitched to Lower Hutt close to Wellington to stay with Debby and Rob, whom we’d met on the Lara Pinta Trail in Australia.
In the evening Philippe got an unexpected call from the doctor in Levin: He’s got a “subtle” fracture after all! So tomorrow again to the doctor in Lower Hutt (an appointment has been arranged), then we will see what all this will come to.
–> We will have a forced break of 3-4 weeks and stay in Wellington.
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