McNicol Rd (km664)- Repeater Hut and campsite (km686)
Mileage: 13.7mi/22km plus extra 2 km going to visit Hunua falls and following wrong trail.
It was raining lightly when I woke up in the morning. I made coffee and breakfast, thinking it would let up, but it only starting coming down harder. I’ve stopped checking the weather forecast because it’s been so nice. Besides, there is nothing I can do about the weather. But I did check to find it was calling for cloudy skies with a touch of rain all day. No kidding. I packed up everything inside my tent, but didn’t want to pack the tent in the rain. Then I remembered that there was a dry house I could escape to. I grabbed my umbrella and made my way up. I was immediately offered the option of a hot shower, which I gladly accepted. It’s funny how miserable cold water falling outside can be, but hot water running over your head inside is one of the most enjoyable luxuries we have.
The rain had stopped by the time I was done and I was able to pack my tent in no rush. The tent was then passed around the living room, as everyone was very curious about how light it is. My unusual gear always makes for a topic of conversation. I had some tea and hung around for more conversation. Meagan made some delicious toast with avocado and salsa spread. She is really into healthy and tasty fresh food. She made the most beautiful kale and pomegranate seed salad for dinner the night before.
The nice thing about not having much of a plan each day is that your schedule is always open to adjustment. When there haven’t been obvious camping options, I’ve left it up to fate as to where I’ll land at night. Other days are more clear-cut, with an obvious destination in reach. It was hard to say goodbye to this loving family but as I’ve said before, that is part of this nomadic life. It was after 10 am when I finally departed, so I was set for a short day.
Argh, more road walking maties!
I thought this looked like a giant sloth in the distance. Who knows, after all the other things I’ve seen.
The sun kind of came out and I was in a very happy place, walking along the road and then a nice path that followed right along the Wairoa river. There were very heavy rains earlier this year, and evidence of the flooding was still everywhere to be seen throughout the Hunua range. This is why a section of the trail is still closed, meaning I will have to detour around on the road tomorrow.
Shortly I came to the turnoff for the 30m high Hunua Falls, just in time for lunch. Of course I walked the side-trip to see the falls. There were quite a few tourists there, plus bathrooms and water. It was a good stop.
I continued on a trail that went mostly up. It started out as very easy tread and then switched to a standard tramping track, meaning slippery roots, mud and steep ups and downs. But I was so happy to be on this track and not on a road and not in the city anymore. The first good bit of track had lots of people hiking it. Not surprisingly, the tramping track was only me and I knew this because I was eating tons of spider webs. After a tiring 6 km, I made it to a junction near the dam. Even after reading numerous blogs about people taking the wrong trail here, I still took the wrong trail! After almost a km, I realized my mistake and retraced my steps all the way back up a huge hill. After many years of TA walkers taking the wrong trail, it sure would be nice if someone finally marked the junction with a TA sign. Or at least mentioned it in the trail notes.
I went down to the reservoir dam, with good views, and followed another good track up the hill to Repeater Hut. The hut was more like a shelter in that it has an open side. But it was very nice and new, with a water tank and a toilet. I only knew about it because of a blog I had read; it’s not listed in the trail notes for some reason. I was somewhat surprised to find it all to myself, save for the rat running around blatantly. But then again, I seem to always be outside a bubble, so being alone has become pretty standard. It was also a perfect night for a hut, given the weather. It started raining just as I got in. Tomorrow the forecast calls for more sun and heat, so no worries. It was also quite chilly, so I was finally looking forward to my down quilt. It it has been too hot most of the time to enjoy the quilt but I predicted good snuggling times ahead. I needed to be all snuggled up too because there were a few mossies out and about. I didn’t have my head net so I had to pull my buff over my face and my hat down over my eyes and ears. They were annoying but I still got sleep. The price I pay for not just setting up my tent.