Today I departed Ahipara - once again in pouring rain. I must have looked a very dejected soul as I trudged up the road to the saddle with all my wet weather gear on and my head down to avoid the rain on my face.
When I got to the top I noticed two dogs were behind me, I hope they hadn't followed me far. There is a large totem pole at the saddle with six smaller ones in a semi circle around the back of it. Maori tradition says that this is the place that spirits pause before fleeing north to Cape Reinga. I wondered if my spirits had paused here today.
I was looking forward to being in the bush however and to seeing the Kauri on today's journey. The start of the track was a brutal set of stairs/steps really that climbed frantically. I staggered up them and paused for a while at the top. After I had been there for a couple of minutes who should turn up but the dogs! I shooed them away as kindly but forcefully as I could. I hope they made it home safe.
I was a little worried as I walked along the ridge because I really don't know as much as I should about native plants. What if I got to my first Kauri tree and didn't even know it? Well I need not have worried myself because when I came around the corner and saw it there was no doubt that this was a kauri. It had a trunk wider than my arm span and went straight up tall and clean till at the top it spread branches to form an immense crown that was obviously home to a myriad of other plants.
The kauri sheds its' bark and the base was surrounded but bits - many the size of my backpack. To my regret it was raining too hard to take a photo. I did pick up a smallish piece of bark with the intention of sending it to my mother, sadly I lost that later in the day.
There was one more solitary kauri before I reached a grove of them where I took a couple of photos. I doubt they can do justice to them. Was a little worried that I had exceeded the suggested time to the grove especially since the total suggested time was eight hours and that was without the two road ends I was walking. About 20 minutes after I got to the old logging road. It was actually quite pretty still with the bush beginning to encroach onto it. I picked up the pace while the going was good and was pleased to be back on time at the next sign.
One of the trees in the kauri grove.
An old Railway wagon that was pressed into service as a loggers hut. Now it is slowly rotting away beside the track.
I passed a couple of old loggers huts that have the distinct look of having been old railway wagons before that. I stopped and took a photo of one. The logging road steadily deteriorated after that and the track was a little hard to find in a couple of places. The next section involved a steep climb and then a steep descent over a peak called Taumatamaoe. I really didn't enjoy it the track was in poor condition, exceptionally steep and very muddy/slippery. I was very pleased to get down on to a farm track and even more pleased to hear someone I assumed was Peter Griffith call out to me from the carpark on Diggers Valley Road not much more than 1km away. I got to the truck to find Peter and his two daughters, Nina and Pepita, waiting for me. They didn't take long to convince me to accept a ride rather than walk to their house as I had intended. I will come back tomorrow and finish it up.
Arrived with enough time to have a shower before a wonderful meal which included some old fashioned potatoes that were entirely purple - but very nice. Peter and Sabrina grow them on their property, they aim to be self sufficient and a good proportion of the meal was home grown.
My legs are quite sore and my heels badly blistered - I don't think my feet being wet all day helped any. I sat up way too late talking to Peter about the area and especially the local plants and animals. Had decided to just have a quiet day tomorrow and to walk the road section with a light pack so as to rest my blisters and muscles.