Trials by error messages

Learning to code is like trying to hold a basic conversation in a second language. No matter how clear and precise you think you are being, there is only so much you information you can convey when you are limited to the words ‘Yes’ and ‘hello’.

Being at EDA everyday has changed my relationship with computers. The changes are hardly noticed by those unfamiliar with who I am but never the less they are there. Like a second language, you find the ways you can express yourself in code grows the more you practice. Words like array and variable now sit in a different place in my head. Through daily exposure the computer has become a familiar tool. Not quite an extension of my hands the way it seems to be for the people I have met on site but I still have time.

In our final week, the sole survivors of Kahu banded together to make Birdseye a community crime watch app. We had a week to make mvp but each of us had hopes in making the app something we could show off to future employers. This stress of what life after code school would be like  sometimes messed with our team dynamics. Each of us with personal dramas and our own demons to wrestle.

After many talks and many more mistakes it was interesting to see how we each had a chance to freak out and be picked up by a person who was feeling it that day. There were no real leaders just the person who had the ability to do what needed to be done that day. These mistakes shaped us and together we found out what each of us found was important. When we were on the same page nothing was impossible, we had the power to do anything.   

As we came up to presentation, each of us expressed what we felt was the most valuable learning experience. Standing together we shared our story of making something, despite our differences and inexperience. As Kahu we had got though the Dev acdemy bootcamp.    

I am aware my knowledge is limited but the prospects of growing as a developer by building apps I would use in everyday life is exciting. It has been months after EDA, I balance my time making technologies both old and new I really get a kick out of sharing my work space (a standing desk made from pallets) with stone tools and a laptop. At least I can still hunt and gather if job prospects don’t look good…..and maybe even write a blog about it.17_01

I know it’s been awhile but…

I have been busy.
I will be over sharing soon I promise.
In the meantime I wrote a fictional short story based on my walk across New Zealand and I would like to share it.
So here it is.

I march head down, staring at my muddy bare feet. I am surrounded by heavy rain drops and a moss covered forest, the track is replaced by streams of water over flowing like rivers. I take a step into a puddle only to have my leg disappear up to my hip “at least the terrain is flat,” I say aloud. My hiking friends have left me behind, and my homemade pack groans as I try to drag myself out of the sink hole. The thin shoulder straps I have been using as a quick fix protest as I use a nearby branch to right myself. I carefully find my feet again, fearing the straps will break and I will be carrying my broken pack on my head.
My legs are going dead from my belt being too tight around my hips and my arms are tingling again where the straps bite into my shoulders. It must be time for a break – I see a stump to sit on and instantly blood rushes back to my limbs. I set my watch to five minutes and will myself to be healed from all the aches and pains I feel in my bare feet. Mornings are the hardest part, it takes a while for the pain in my feet to get to the point where I stop noticing it happens by ten am, like clock work. Through the trees I can see the beginning of a steep climb, the hut I am trying to get to is on the top of a ridge at a one thousand meter elevation and the only way is up.

“How was the walk?”
I am asked on my way home. My mind pauses for a moment as I remember that day climbing that ridge.
With a careful smile I reply “Great.”
Another pause as I try to recall the response I had prearranged for this situation.
“Sick of instant mashed potato though,” we both laugh.
“You must be really fit now.”

An image flickers in my mind’s eye, of my reflection in the mirror in a public toilet. It is the day after I finished. I look small and run down. Skin dry with weird tan lines. I never really looked at myself until this point and I wouldn’t call this fit.
“Yeah I can walk forever,” I reply. Another pause then smile.
“Was it worth it?”

Alone on the ridge line over 1700m above sea-level the narrow rocky tops stretch out in front of me. The clouds flow over the mountains below me like water to a dam. I don’t have clear visibility but if I look down I can see worn grooves in the rock where years of walking have formed a track. Sometimes I hear goats calling each other below, sometimes I hear nothing. Each peak I climb is replaced by another, and the track sometimes becomes a rocky balancing beam with steep drops on either side. I look out into the sea of clouds knowing that there is supposed to be an amazing view but I just happened to be passing though on the wrong day.

“Definitely,” I say.
I got a free coffee out of this conversation, there is no way I will tell her that I am returning home broke, jobless and living back at my parents. Too poor to get a bus back, I had decided to hitch home from Bluff and hope for the best once I got to Picton. With my money card bent I have no idea how much I have.… I think I have enough? In a moment of weakness I had bought a pack of fresh blueberries from a fruit shop on the side of the road (and tipped the whole pack into my mouth) and was about to get a coffee when the barista had asked if I was one of those hikers. Next thing I know I have a free coffee in my hand and I am being asked the same questions I get asked when I re-enter society.

“What was your favorite part?”
I remember the sudden cold snap one morning on the ridge line. I have to hike again despite the conditions. What few clothes I have I am wearing but my fingers have gone numb and I can’t think straight. I am a little worried that it is the beginning of hypothermia. I increase my pace to stay warm but I notice a shoe lace is untied. I bend down to tie it. My fingers don’t work anymore and I can’t recall how to tie my laces, defiantly hypothermia. I know there are no huts for the rest of this section of trail so I will be sleeping in the exposed hills. Keeping my limbs in tight, I push on, abandoning the complex task of shoe tying. When I decide to make camp it is only early evening, but I have had no breaks and found little shelter to protect me. The wind is like ice, I make a rain cover from my poncho and check my water bottles, I have enough for tea and my dehydrated potatoes for dinner and even some for morning porridge if I am lucky.

I clear a space amongst the tall dry grass for my cooker to boil water and do my best to shelter it from the wind. I stare hungrily at the water waiting for it to boil. I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast, all is silent maybe the storm has passed. I hear the wind roll in from afar this time in the other direction, it picks up the poncho, pulling at the pegs that secure it to the ground. The cooker’s flame licks at some nearby grass and the side of my little campsite is in flames instantly. I empty one of my water bottles to put out the fire. Well there goes porridge my campsite is now surrounded by black scorch marks. I drop a tea bag into my cup and settle down watching the full moon rise over the mountains that I am amongst. The barely warm tea is strangely satisfying to drink after a long cold day of uneventful hardship.

“Long distance walking means you walk for weeks in beautiful environments then just when you start getting sick of it, you’re over a hill and you’re in a new environment.” By the expression on her face I can tell that she doesn’t quite get it. But she smiles politely anyway.
“What made you want to do it?”
“….Ummm.”

This was the question I asked myself frequently when things were going wrong. It has been one of the longest distances I have covered in one day and my body is complaining about it. At least it was flat grasslands instead of the weeks of mountain walking, but I am still dead tired. I stumble into the hut and grunt something that resembles a “hello,” to the other occupants. The ritual of dinner has been refined to take less than ten minutes and I have searched and sorted the reading material in the hut knowing I have another hour before it starts getting too dark to read. I am settled in with my tea and have found old powdered milk in the hut – a luxury. The reading material is that good this time I use my head lamp to finish my chapter in bed.

It is about three am when I realize there is something wrong with my stomach but I just try to sleep it off. Please don’t be the milk powder but my body confirms my fear and I race out the door heading for where I think the long drop is. I pause long enough to vomit as the wave of nausea sends me to my knees. It is pitch black outside – I find my bearings and stumble towards the long drop again. I vomit, harder this time. What little food I had eaten today is now wasted calories. The waste is what I am thinking about, even in my weakened state. I calculate that 150 grams of potato flakes, carried for a week, now a puddle in the grass. I make it onto the toilet seat and sit with my head resting in my hands

as sickness comes in waves for an eternity. Sometimes I drift off before another wave hits me. I wait until I am sure that it is over before I move. I am too exhausted to care that I am sitting on a long drop in nothing but my underwear. That is when it dawns on me; I forgot to grab my toilet paper. My only option is to wipe my ass with my underwear before heading to the outside water tank to hand wash them naked in the dark. I collapse back onto my bed asking myself that question. What made me want to do this?.

“I am young and able enough to be to achieve it. I thought I would take the opportunity while I still could.”
There were a million things that led me to do this but people want simple answers when it comes to why. This is the best I can do. She nods. I really should have walked for a charity – people understand charity.
“I see you have a bow with you, did you catch much with it?”

I am lost. The track is an informal one, meaning little foot sign. The orange poles marking the way are at about thirty minute intervals and I broke my glasses long ago. I stumble though rough terrain, hoping to find my way as I go but frequently finding myself far from the next orange marker. I think I am doing more rock climbing than hiking. It will be another late night before I get to the hut I am looking for. Stubbornly my bare feet walk though the long grasses despite the fear of spear grass doing them serious injury. I take another careful step over a bush only to find something squirm underfoot. Instead of the normal instinct to lift my foot, I press down harder to inspect what I have caught. Its a hare. I have been missing every hare that I have shot at this whole trip, some being as big as dogs. I have been carrying a 50 pound hunting bow for six months, trained for two years, and the

only hare I have caught, I stepped on.
“Sorry about this,” I say to the frightened creature as I grab it by the neck and break it swiftly.

“Nah, sadly I am a terrible shot.”
She laughs but it is always hard to explain just how difficult long distance walking is. I don’t like to press the point that hunters in general hunt areas they know well and that failure is common when hunting new areas. The calories need to hike long distances are more than I could catch anyway.
“Anything you looking forward to once you’re back in Wellington?” This is an easy question and I answer before she finishes.

The lakeside town of Wanaka is picturesque, I love the smooth pavement that marks this section of trail in contrast to mountains I have came from. It must be a weekend since people are walking their dogs and riding their bikes. I am enjoying the atmosphere of having people going about their lives. I am hanging around because I know I will soon be back to the isolation of the bush for another week. As I make my way a sweet scent drifts in the air – it is amazing how keen my sense of smell has become over the last five months. It’s not like the scents weren’t there before, I just never paid attention. But now they mean something to me. They mean fresh fruit.
I follow my nose off-trail and back towards the township. The colorful apricots stand out as the trees branches hang over the fence. They strain to hold the abundance of fresh fruit. I laugh like a maniac, setting down my pack and filling my arms with as much as I can carry. Crouching on the side of the street under the fence I stuff my mouth full as the juices dribble down my chin. This is when I notice three kids staring at me. I am a hairy, barefooted bow man with eyes rolling in the back of my head sitting on the ground with a mouth full of apricots. I try to reclaim my composure, swallow my mouthful and explain
“It’s been a while since I’ve eaten fruit that wasn’t dried and I hate instant mash you know?” By their expression I can tell they don’t know.

“Family and friends.”
I say fearing what she might think of the truth. I finish my coffee, savor it’s bitter taste and thank her. She shrugs it off like it was nothing. I understand it’s a small thing to give but it’s amazing how much it means when you have nothing but what you can carry on your back. The people of New Zealand are generous and I don’t think I could ever do enough to repay that.

Over the next few months home I read the stories of others who had walked long distances, trying to connect with people who had been through something similar. It was strangely satisfying to hear them express the jealously around knowing your friends and family were safe and comfortable while you are sitting in the bush counting how many toenails you have left. Each story I read finishes with an inspirational message that each walker had discovered along the way. Somehow they found meaning in their completion and sometimes changed their lives after going though the hardship of long distance walking.

The day I got to Bluff, I remember jogging along State Highway One on a sunny day. With every step my mind recalls all the times I thought about what I would do at the end of the trail.

Day One
Carrying more then I need, feet blistered, body protesting at the new demands put upon it. I am sitting in an unfamiliar landscape on my sixth break. I try to picture the great outdoorsman I would become, then push on.

Day 105
Sitting on the side of a mountain with other hikers. Our conversation normally centers around food but today a different question is asked:
“What are you going to do when you get to Bluff?.”
I am whittling my wooden pack frame trying to remove the sharp bit that will eventually lead to a scar on my back.
“Throw this bloody thing into the sea,” I reply, full of resentment.
“I will carry you to the finish like in Lord of the Rings if you want, little hobbit.”
“I HAVE A BOW! How is it I’m a Hobbit?!”
The laughter echoes in the valley.

Day 261
I am in a small hut I don’t remember the name of. I have been walking for weeks and feel robotic. Two hikers enter, they are the text book definition of the long distance walker. We discuss the next section trying to decide the best route when I realize I still don’t know how far I have come.
“Do your notes say how long till you get to Bluff?,” I ask.
“Two weeks by my calculations. I can’t wait! I am going to pick up some champagne in Invercargill. ”
I smile at the idea of not having to buy food items based on how much they weigh.
“That is a genius idea.”

Day 275

At four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon I reach the end of the South Island and feel nothing, really. I make my way to a nearby bar to get a beer. The bartender asks how my day is going, I tell him I just finished walking the length of New Zealand. He peers outside, shrugs and says “Nice day for it I suppose,” I take the obligatory Facebook selfie and hitch home.

How to; be an Athletic Diabetic (an advice piece)

Before I started my adventure I went looking for advice for undertaking a long distance walk as a diabetic. I kind of nerded out on it, asking doctors, fellow diabetics and general know it alls. Everyone I asked had small pieces of advice that slowly accumulated until I left for the trail. With every challenge I met on the trail as a diabetic I became more capable and gained better understanding of what it takes to push my limits. After almost six months and three thousand kilometers I present some hints and tips for other Diabetics wanting to push their limits too.

Be batman

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Ok I may have started a little strong but it is always helpful to plan for every eventuality. I am the kind of guy who would practice setting up and pack down his sheather as if it were raining when it wasn’t. It may be a little extreme but it does pay off to have a plan as it takes a lot of stress out of the equation when the unexpected does happen. For hiking long distances this meant having my diabetic stuff in easy access including sugar, food items, BG tester and medication. I also had a friendly note saying to look in my first aid (around my neck) if I was found confused or unconscious and keep a more detailed note on what to do in the first aid itself. Doubt anyone else had skittles in their first aid kit.

Record your levels often

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I know this is probably said over and over but it is seriously the only way to really see how the relationship between medication, exercise and food work for you. One of the advantages of long distance walking is the exercise and food elements are fixed making it easier to find balance as the only major factor that could effect my levels was my medication. For this reason I think hiking is great for diabetics I have really learnt a lot about my self by undertaking such a epic challenge. On a side note writing down your levels in a way that helps you see the patterns helps. Some apps are great for the convenience of recording but I had trouble seeing the overall happenings over a day of testing (so I pen and papered it).

Have no emotional connection to your levels

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Like everyone in the beginning I had really trouble adjusting to diabeticness (for starters I had a massive needle phobia) but I was lucky enough to be interested in health and fitness and was relatively old (16) when I started showing symptoms. The biggest stumbling block for me in the old days was how personally I would take bad levels. I would stop testing all together if I didn’t get it exactly perfect every time this ended up being the opposite of helpful.

The fact of the matter is the human body is an amazing machine capable of achieving balance that technology has not yet been able to match. Celebrating consistency is better for your sanity then trying to do what the body does with inferior tools. On trail this meant having automatic responses to highs and lows without the why me drama. Adjustments to my medication were always small and gradual and over the six months on trail balance came more consistently. Don’t get me wrong I had random fluctuations especially on the days where I came back to civilization but the fluctuations get less extreme as I got better with my ratios without taking it as a personal shortcoming.

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Diabetes has been great for me because I have become better informed about all things health and nutrition (I love nerding out). Though pushing the limits as a diabetic needs a bit more forethought over time these things get easier, you just have to persist to get there. Something hard won is worth so much more once you are out the other side and no I may not be able to eat and drink whatever I want whenever I want but I have bigger aspirations in life then that eating a tub of ice cream in one sitting.

Bearing the fruits of labour

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(This last track will forever be the fruit trail for me because dam there was a lot of fruit. These are all the ones I gathered on trail.)
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The funniest thing happened to me on this last trail. There was a sign warning about me about only undertaking this track if you are an experienced hiker. This made me stop and think am I experienced?
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Well after five months of making mistakes and plenty of pain and suffering I am beginning to feel like maybe I am. Don’t get me wrong the track was steep but it was well formed, with both shoes and a rebalanced pack frame I even started to look the part.
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You see you don’t notice your fitness until you leave an hour after the last people and catch them. Or how organised your pack is until you see how quickly you can unpack and repack in under 15 minutes. The most notably change has been people saying “is that all your carrying?” Instead of “what are you carrying?”.
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I have no pain at the end of the day and know exactly how I need to eat to feel satisfied though I did run out of pemmican sadly. And at a glance of a map I know exactly how much ground I can cover in a day.
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I don’t think these are skills you will loose either (well maybe the fitness). I think I’m really going to appreciate a weekend in the bush a lot more knowing how much harder it is to be on the trail for five months.
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So when people ask what I am going to do once I finish this walk the answer will probably be more of the same. Walking, making and writing cos it’s pretty amazing….Probably to a lesser extent though.
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Beating the blues

With my bow safely sent away with the swedes and the abandonment of my other fishing gear I began to feel like I was giving up.

The Swedes also gave me were shoes (a final nail in the coffin). With a depressed sigh I considered this defeat. But after traveling 2500 km mostly barefooted I just wanted to finish the track.
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The large road sections and tussock hills meant long days and longer distances. I couldn’t help feeling over come by the stresses of being five months on the trail making sure I had enough food (a diabetics worst fear), concentrating on informal track with my short sightedness and trying not to think about all the worries that come with finishing (what am I doing after this? Where will I live? how do I get home from bluff? argh!!).
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The beauty of nature had lost its revitalising energy, the random hut books couldn’t hold my interest and the idea of returning home made me feel exhausted.

The will to slug it out on the track was gone. My body wasn’t tired but my mind was I had nothing left to give. With good comic timing I was forced to pitch my fly on the top of a saddle in the rain.

The stress also lead to my control over my blood sugars not being perfect. Eating away at my food supplies and meds. Did you know you can stress about stress?

I would meet other hikers at huts and it seemed that I wasn’t alone they shared their own  feelings of hikers blues and talked about the chance to see their kids again and the pride of finishing helping to keep them going (I was jealous).
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I made my way over yet another beautiful saddle (sigh) I was hit by a cold icy wind. This got me to quicken my pace down the steep decent. My heart raced as I slide and scrambled down the track. I jumped over creeks and stumbled over rocks and before I knew it I was at the hut.

Over my lunch break I released I hadn’t worried all morning. The next part of the trail it came off the road and onto a beech forest trail steep climbs and uneven ground actually made things interesting. I skipped over narrow edges and jumped over fallen trees when I stumbled and let’s face it, fell I laughed. I felt joy in the need to go fast even when it hurt. I felt more like a kid exploring and forest playground then a long distance hiker on a track.

With shoes on and a lighten pack the 27 km didn’t seem all the bad. And that night for the first time in a while I slept soundly.
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It seems that my cure for the blues lies more in going through more pain and suffering rather then relaxing and taking it easy who knew?

A small moment of zen

“I heard there is a part with a lot of spear grass, is it really that bad?”
“Yeah is it, then it isn’t”

I seriously think this is the most zen thing I have ever heard. And totally sums up walk the length of New Zealand, and how you cope with suffering it.
As I walked over the tussock hills up towards the highest point of the trail this was the conversation I held on to.

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The path was steep then it wasn’t.
The sharp terrain bit into my legs then it didn’t.
The long road walk went on forever then it didn’t.

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Enduring suffering is about knowing it ends and of course seeing the beauty that rewards your endurance.

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The path is long….and then it’s finished

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Hikers blues

(Let it be noted that the following pictures are the random stuff I see on track unlike the big scenery this is the little stuff no one notices unless your short sighted and broke your glasses)
Well the south island really is a completely different place.
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We have travelled over mountains and been eaten by sand flies. Christmas on the Richmond Range was challenging because I broke my shoulder straps (and had to steal some off an abandoned school bag), lost the handle to my bow (therefore attempted to chase the eight goats at old man hut with an axe), and while carrying fourteen days worth of food forgot toilet paper (genius).
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But all said and done it was amazing having a birthday on the trail (complete with river swimming, mountain climbing and a candle light to blow out), celebrating a rainy New years eve with eight random Te Araroa hikers in a five bunk hut (no one remembered alcohol but we did have grain waves) and moving through three completely different environments from beech forest to alpine to Mars all on one trail!
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The Nelson lakes was popular place with me needing to add an hour onto track times for photos with tourists and having yarns with other Te Araroa hikers. Then coming down off the mountains and into grassy meadows was a nice change of pace.  Though I was food poisoned by my dehydrated coconut milk and it took me two days to work it out (don’t ask what I used for toilet paper).
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After a quick break in Hamner we headed down the hope kiwi track with packs full. This is when I began to feel the hikers blues. You see when I began my research into walking this trail I read a lot of blogs and in them I saw a common tread I call the hikers blues. For me it was the endless repetition of waking up early, eating the same thing and trying to make distance each day. Your feet become robotic and your eyes focus on find markers rather then taking in where you are. You get to the hut find your bed and stay there hopefully finding something to read (I even got through a woman’s day magazine). To top it all off my pack was having issues like always making walking very uncomfortable.
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The trail would take us five days tops and our last food package wouldn’t be there for at least eight days. So our little group went our separate ways, the Swedes decided to get out early and get to Christchurch to look for a car so they could get to a few other tracks not on Te Araroa before they had to head home and I took a bit more time actually enjoying where I was rather then making kilometres .
I had more food then I needed and time to kill so this meant I had time to hang out in random hot pools, finish weaving myself a wallet and reflect on why I was doing this at all. It’s amazing the deep revelations you have wandering around in the wilderness. The truth of it is I really enjoy making stuff (even when it doesn’t work), taking in the small stuff (I’m short sighted I have no choice at this stage) and chasing goats with an axe. Sometimes the walking can get in the way of that but I have to admit this trail has grown on me.
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On a side note the harpers pass track used to be part of an old Maori trading route, the fact they carried greenstone through this terrain really means I got nothing to complain about.

So with less then 1000 km to go I still feel up to the task but will stop and enjoy the hot pools from time to time least it starts to feel more like a job and less like a journey.

Pictures worth a thousand words

A lot has happened since we set off through the Richmond Ranges. And currently we have been diverted to Hamner because of a lost food package. So instead of the normal tales from the trail I’m just going to up load my pictures.

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The next post will be full of stories of the people and places of the trail I promise.

Let’s talk gear

So I have been punished for having a month off in Wellington (lost all my conditioning). But feel very prepared for the up coming challenge ahead. This week we completed the lovely Queen Charlotte track and are heading into the Richmond Ranges for Christmas. Can’t wait to be honest.
Here is what I am carrying.

Road shoes

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Though barefoot is the way I like to be there are places it gets tough. So as a back up I got my toe shoes. They are not super ideal for tramping, when they are wet they stay wet plus not very robust. But they have lasted from Auckland and they do the job of protecting my feet.

3 litres of water
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I carry 3 litres of water as I don’t have much in the way of cooking I use it mostly for tea.

Two dry bags and a bivvy
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All my shelter stuff is in the top
My clothes and sleeping bag in the orange dry bag.
And the green is full of food and other equipment.

Cooking stuff
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I use a meths burner made from a v can as my method of choice. I only really use it for tea but then I was introduced to instant mashed potatoes.

This is my sleeping stuff
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Water proof bag and sleeping mat with my poncho fly.

Along with is sleeping bag I have been in some pretty bad weather and never noticed.
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I also made some leather shoes I traded the ice pick for the leather…I’ll let you know how long they last (I’m not confident).

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Technology
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Safety wise I have a PLB, a strobe light, a gps and I have a uv light to sterilise water all thanks to my mate Rowan. I also carry a solar panel to keep my phone charged (so this blog is possible).

Hunters stuff
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I also carry this collapsible 50 lb recurve bow. I also have a eel trap I made from fishing net. But the sun is gone so I can’t take the photo.

While in Wellington we made our own nut based bars and tried our hand at pemmican so we will see how that goes.

Anyway we won’t be out till early January so I will be spending both Christmas and my birthday in the bush. Don’t think I would have it any other way if I’m honest.
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Mountains to sea

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After getting through the pureora forest in one piece I got to Taumarunui with an unexpected surprise. The swedes were in town so after getting my gears sorted like always. We planned to walk the Tongariro crossing and the Wanganui river together. Both of these tracks are part of the Great Walks (the first I had heard of them) and this was the first time I had seen well maintained tracks and soo many people.

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(Where is the sign saying it’s safe?)

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As we climbed the sleeping giants we were treated to a bright and sunny day (the day before had been snowing). By the time we got to the lakes at the top the hordes of people were coming from the other side. I also found an ice pick and felt once we got to Ngaruhoe we were destined to take a picture of a hobbit,an elf and a dwarf in front of Mount Doom.

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Come sunset we had made camp at the hut (full of people) and had many interesting conversation with people all around the world. There is a real community feel to the people you find on the trail. I guess we are all looking for adventure so seeing a barefoot Maori with wooden things strapped to his back is a little weird but totally acceptable.

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Walking out the next day we ended up in National park and had agreed to be picked up by the kayak crew from there. Though we had a small issue of food. We put our last supplies together and figured we would manage.

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The next morning ended up being a late pick up. The kayak guy warned us about river rising and bad weather coming by the weekend and worst of all no reception! But honestly it was so amazing to be on the water. My poor feet got to rest up and we covered at least 40 km every two hours. The fastest I have ever moved.
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The feeling of isolation amongst the steep cliffs and forest was kind of peaceful. Each campsite we came to had its own unique charm. There was rain and hail but it was never uncomfortable. Though my blood sugar meter, cellphone and bow all got a little water damaged off the water they all came right.
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The river swell worked to our advantage as the closer we got to Wanganui the slower the current moved. The steep forest cliffs made way for sloping grassy farmland. And by day five we had made it to Wanganui.

Pushing on to Levin I had more family friends to visit and the weather up the Tararua range was terrible. We made the decision to give it a pass and headed to my family home in Wellington.

Now at my family home I have been preparing for the South Island. For though I may be half way the South is the tougher half. The Richmond range taking up to 12 days to complete.
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My gear has improved enough to last so far but is it good enough to complete the hardest section of the track? (I hope so)

…next blog I will show off exactly what my gear is.