Te Araroa Trail Day 111. Birchwood Station 2877.7kms – Merriview hut 2904.2kms

Te Araroa Trail Day 111 - Birchwood to Merriview hut

I got a great night’s sleep last night. It was really nice to have a proper bed in the little hut. It rained constantly throughout the night, and hadn’t let up by the morning, and wasn’t going to stop all day. I was in two minds about what to do. Should I stay a day in the hut or push on?? But it wasn’t very windy, so I decided to walk the 26kms to Merrivale in the rain.

Te Araroa Trail Day 111 - Eucalyptus forest near Birchwood
Te Araroa Trail Day 111 – Eucalyptus forest near Birchwood

I left at 9.20am. Around 2.5 hours later I regretted my decision a little. Everything I was wearing was wet. I’d finished a steep climb to the top of Twinlaw hill, where it had got pretty windy – I was freezing! Last year when I was training for Te Araroa trail I would complain to my work colleagues about having to go for a run when it looked like rain. I told myself then that “I had better harden up because there’s no backing out on-trail if it rains” … All those times were practice for today..!!

The terrain became forestry, with a wide gravel track. I ducked into the forest and changed everything. I changed out of my soaking wet running shorts into undies and waterproof trousers, and got out of my wet merino t-shirt and into a merino long-sleeve. It was lovely to be warm again.

I take my hat off to all the hardy souls who tramped Te Araroa trail over the 2016/17 season, because I imagine that many of their days were like this – it was a terrible summer last year!

Amazingly I met 2 NOBOs also silly enough to be out in this weather too. From here the trail was pretty easy, along the 4wd track and down into beech forest. This time I was glad for the shelter of the forest, and I even temporarily forgot to be angry about the rain/cold any more! Once I reached the flat at Scotts Gap, there was no protection from the rain again. It was pouring, and I was walking into a headwind. All I could think on repeat was “only 2.5 more hours of this to go…” and despite the fact that everything was now soaked through my waterproofs, I had a laugh to myself about how I would look back on this and define it as ‘character building’.

After the flat came the Island Bush track – another little hill, with a nice 4wd track to follow. At one part there was a fallen tree across the track, so I had to walk to the side through a small lake up to my knees to get through… a little extra annoyance in what was turning out be be a thoroughly tedious day! After the hill there was a final 3km road walk along quite a main highway, to Merrivale Rd. I reached the “Merriview hut” at around 3.30pm. The hut was in the field just beyond the main house. It was a really cute 5 bunk hut, with outside loo and sink.

Laura (French/Swiss – NOBO) greeted me. She’d waited out the weather today. I have never been more glad to get into any accommodation ever, and it was wonderful to have such a lovely hut buddy too!! I got changed into my dry/bedtime clothes and with barely-functioning fingers (sooo cold!) I fumbled about with my long piece of cord, to make a washing line inside the hut. I was pleased to finally use the cord as that’s one unused item I’ve carried since the beginning.

There were a few items for sale in the little cupboard in the hut (noodles, tuna, oats etc..). I took a packet of noodles and cooked them immediately as I hadn’t stopped for any lunch. I enjoyed them with a spinach wrap, with peanut butter + chunks of parmesan cheese.

I got into my sleeping bag to warm up – regretting my decision to send my puffa jacket home. I spent the rest of the day chatting with Laura. Darryl, our host popped over with fresh eggs, so Laura boiled them and we had a couple each, and saved 2 each for tomorrow. Darryl sold us a couple of beers, and we were all set. 7.30pm was bedtime. I was really glad to get into bed and get toasty warm again…

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