- Date: 21.12.2019
- Ta km: 798-816(ish) Doc campsite
- Actually walked: 18ish
- Dry feet: no
We had about 15km to walk that day, but with a crazy(ish) elevation profile and the track is in a bad shape. I already knew it would be a tough day, but I was excited. The walk started with a lovely walk through the forest and the path was still very very nice. The last 3km of the climb however were hell for me. I am quite short so some bits were extremely difficult and dangerous (rock climbing on a wet rock with a heavy pack on your back is difficult, surprise surprise) and a few times I was terrified I’d fall and get seriously injured.
I still made it to the top of the first peak where I found Jack waiting and soon enough we continued the climb. In total the 8km uphill took us about 4hrs. We had lunch at the hut where another hiker was taking a zero. At 1pm we figured we’d better get going.
The DOC sign said 5.6km dowhill, expected time 3-5hrs. Ouch. The section started with a board walk and climbing some stairs to another peak, Hihikiwi. After that it was as bad as everyone said. The amount of mud was astonishing and it made Raetea forest look like a desert. At first it was quite fun trying to keep my shoes dry, later on I was simply trying to keep my shoes. Jack slipped and fell in the mud and managed to tear his shoe in the process. I slipped quite a few times and although I never actually fell, putting all my weight on my poles hurt my left elbow and right knee. Ugh. A bit later we met a family tramping, the kids covered in mud, the parents shockingly enough with dry looking shoes.
When we finally got to the stream after the decline I was quite grumpy. I took off my shoes and socks and washed them in the stream. In total it took us 3.5hrs to walk (aka slide) 5.6km down Pirongia. We did quite well! I put on my sandals and continued in those, letting my shoes dry hanging from my pack. We continued on the gravel road for a few km and we found this perfect flat area to stay for the night. The view was truly incredible. We cooked our food and I decided to have a second dinner – my normal lunch menu (tortilla, nutelly and banana chips). As I was munching on it I saw the biggest spider crawling on my pack and freaked out. Jack took my hiking pole to get rid of it. He also said he’s never seen a spider like that. That thing was huge, fat and fluffy. It honestly looked like a small tarantula and reminded me of the humongous spider from Lord of the Rings, Odula. And here I thought NZ isn’t supposed to have any of that shit!
At least the sunset made up for the scary encounter. It was amazing and I am very happy we stayed there instead of pushing on further. I also called my family again and it was great to hear their voices again and see them. With Christmas coming up I was starting to feel a bit homesick.