Laura and I got up at around 6am. I had hot oats for breakfast as it was raining again outside, and I wanted to be warmed up for today’s trail. I had left my wet clothes on the line outside under the verandah to ‘dry’ overnight, and by morning I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were only damp and not soaking. Even so, I left it until the last possible minute to get changed out of my lovely warm nightwear into cold damp daywear. Within a couple of minutes I was warm again, as the damp merino warmed up.
The trail started with a 7km gravel track which started flat and then climbed 800m into Longwood Forest and up to Bald Hill. Along the way it started to rain again so I got fully dressed in my wet weather gear and plodded on. There were plenty of ups and downs through the other worldly, mossy forest. Each time I came to a peak or exposed tussock section it began to rain, so I spent most of the day in my waterproofs again. At one point I was so cold I had to put my hat and gloves on!! I could hardly even get them out of my pocket my fingers were so cold!
Longwood Forest was my Ratea Forest. I got off lightly in Ratea (the muddy, hilly forest in Northland which wasn’t actually all that muddy for me). When thinking of today’s trail I will fondly remember it by substituting the word ‘trail’ for either ‘stream’ or ‘bog’. It was that kind of day – pretty terrible to be honest.
I got to Martin’s hut at around 3.30pm. Martin’s hut is a little 4 bed hut built in 1905, and is very, very rustic – made of corrugated iron with considerable gaps in the walls/door/floor and an open fireplace and chimney at one end. I was joined by three NOBOs (Germany & Canada).
I was quite worried about the NOBO German girl in the party who was carrying far too much stuff, didn’t know how to work her stove, and by her own admission was very slow, and not confident at all about doing the trail solo. It sounded like she was already a burden on the other couple who had waited for her all day (which will no doubt very soon become tiresome for them). I gave her the best advice I could re. gear, and hope she finds someone else in an equally slow predicament, or decides Te Araroa isn’t for her and sticks to shorter day hikes instead.
We got a fire going, a considerable feat given that the whole forest and all the firewood was wet. We hung all our wet things up to dry. We spent the evening eating and went to bed early to keep warm. It became freezing as soon as the fire died off a little.