Filtering water last night and this morning took over 2,000 pumps with the handle.  A great upper arm work out but it was ridiculously time consuming.  The sand-flies went from famine to feast in two sittings of me down at the stream water’s edge.  Bloody speckled skin from all the swatting.  Who invented them anyway?  And what is their purpose on this planet?  Rather have snakes I think!

dsc09897-1280x853

Distance wise, today was day one of the Pirongia Traverse.  8kms on the Tahaunui Track ascending to the summit at 959 metres taking 4-5 hours to stay at the Pahautea Hut.

We were the last to de-camp as the others water filter mechanics were quicker.  At 2km per hour, we were doing well.  Meeting a Father and Son on the track with three pig dogs was exciting.  Their bounty of a wild soar was impressive.  Roasted wild pork on the barbque is divine.

dsc09900-1280x853

Each dog had a collar locator beacon affixed to its neck.  When they smell, and chase a pig, the thing can lead them on a wild goose chase into the depths of the bush.  This one did.  For a kilometre and a half this one did before the chaps caught up with the thing, dogs keeping it cornered.  Sticking the pig was how it got extinguished.

Now they each took turns to carry their mornings hunt back into suburbia.  A forth dog was a further 3.5 km up the track.  They weren’t worried.  Eventually, the dog realises the hunt is over and would make its way back down and home.  We passed Ziggy coming down way further up the track.  We were still going up because no barbque invitation was forth coming!

As the ascent went up, so too did the steepness and mud.  Our pace slowed to 1km per hour.  It was horrendous.  It was the toughest yet and exhaustion on top of fatigue wasn’t made easier by pictures of pork belly pig!   Reaching the summit was relief.  The highest point yet so far on the trail, the 360° views were worth the blood, sweat and tears.  That’s what we told ourselves.  Self-talk is important under the influence of stress!  It’s the highest point reached yet so far on the trail.  The extinct volcano transitions between kauri forest of the north and the beech forest of the south.

dsc09906-1280x853

dsc09908-1280x853

dsc09917-1280x853

dsc09918-1280x853

dsc09922-1280x853

dsc09935-1280x853

Another half a kilometre and we were at the hut.  Yay!  Nick, one of the TA walkers we shared the campsite with the night before was there.  A fellow Kiwi too.  Everyone else had gone over and down.  Another two overnighters arrived.  A Dad and daughter.  They had trekked up a different track.  It was so cool to learn how she had chosen to live out of a pack for forty hours as part of a homework assignment.  The Pahautea Hut wasn’t an easy ascent and her achievement reminded us of ours.  She lifted our spirits.  Good on you Dad.

dsc09939-1280x853

dsc09940-1280x853

The weather forecast for tomorrow afternoon predicted rain.    Our gamble was to spend the night at the hut and get down first thing as quickly as.  The time to descend showed 4 hours.   As the hut became quiet from everyone retiring early, cloud had started to roll in.

We don’t often pray.  This night we did.  Please someone up there, hold off the wet till we get down.  Walking up the track in dry conditions was heaven.  To walk down in wet, that would, be hell.

Amen.

dsc09937-1280x853