Days 20 and 21
My last rest day was at Paihia, 9 days ago. Before the trip started, I planned to take a rest day every 5 days, so I am a little overdue at 9 days. Typically a rest day is called a zero day, as you do zero kms. But this was a walking rest day. I walked from Waipu Cove to Mangawhai Heads and stayed the night. Then walked to Mangawhai Village to do shopping and relax, before walking to the Southern edge of Mangawhai town to the Holiday Park. This was a very reasonable plan, allowing resting, walking and shopping.
But first, I needed to get to Mangawhai Heads. Woke up super early to get a good start on the day. Phil, Marije, Steffen and Diana are staying to have a full rest day. And the beach at Waipu Cove is a great place to rest. I had rationalized that it is always better to take a rest day in a place that has shops and services, as this means carrying less food and being able to enjoy cafes. Others prefer beaches.
Although I got packed up just after 6am, I ended up staying for an extra hour before leaving. Both Diana and Marije are not enjoying the trail that much. We shared a cup-of-tea and had a little heart to heart. We are a little group and it is good to support each other. I think this early morning tea triggered the “revelation” I had later in the day …
Overall, this was a solid walking day with the total kms completed not telling the entire story. On leaving Waipu Cove, there was a steady climb with the sun starting to heat up the day. This was along gravel roads with sweeping and beautiful views to the ocean and the travels of the previous day. Once the ridge was gained, the path turned into nice native track (Langsview Track), which offered some relief from the sun.
At the 430 kms point, there was clearing in the forest and the much talked about Camp 430 presented itself. The previous days we had considered stopping here for the night, but ultimately every plan that involved Camp 430 got rejected. Instead Ruth, Elliot and I took a brief lunch here. We had just started eating when the local ladies tramping club arrived, about 20 of them. They were out for the day and were super keen to talk to us. Some knew more about the Te Araroa trail than we did. They gave us some complicated local advice on a better trail to take to get to Mangawhai Heads and which I failed to remember and find. Then some nice rolling farmland, which on a roller day would have been very nice indeed. It is good to see farm owners allowing us to travel across their land. The gem of the day was the Mangawhai Cliff walkway. This is a a high tide option providing stunning view from the cliffs over the ocean. The water was calling like a siren. I could see the beach in my future and hopes of a swim, which was granted.
I took the coastal route into Mangawhai Heads as the tide was low. This also shaved off a few kilometers and some time. The wind had picked up, and my poorly staked tent decided to try and fly away. It also managed to damage one of the poles in the process. The problem was solved by actually staking the tent correctly.
Ruth and Elliot invited my to join them for dinner at the local pizza pub bar. What a brilliant idea, and my first beer for quite a while. I ate an entire pizza. And this is why we rest in towns.
The next morning I met Ruth and Elliot again at one of the local cafes for breakfast. I had learned my lesson in Kerikeri to never take a full breakfast on a walking day, but today was my rest day, so I could and I did. Over breakfast we did some planning for the next 4 days, so when we got to the supermarket we knew how much food to buy. It was quite a puzzle to solve and ultimately it took 2 lattes to solve the puzzle. I wanted to be in Auckland on the 20th, exactly a week away. There were multiple low tide crossings, a tide dependent kayak trip and a muddy forest crossing that does not have an obvious place to camp; all to be factored into the planning. We felt like we established a good plan which involved staying with some Trail Angels. Later that night we found out that Steffen had independently created the same plan as us.
A short walk had us at the supermarket, the biggest one so far on the trip. And then another short walk to the Holiday Park. Total walking for the day was a little over 10 kms. As I walked to the Holiday Park, I had a mini revelation. So bear with me as I try to explain what popped into my head. I had earlier decided that some people are enjoying this trail much more than others. Ruth, Elliot and myself are really enjoying the trail, in fact we have a little saying, “That we are having the time of our lives”. Others not so much. A few days earlier, I had concluded that this trail is hard and not the best idea for people trying to solve something in their normal life. This is not the trail if you are looking for some type of transformation. There seems to be an inverse correlation between asking the trail for something and enjoying the trail. For me, I am not asking the trail to solve anything, and I am here to merely enjoy it. But since the start, I have been thinking that I need to walk more slowly and take more time to enjoy the trail. “Stop and enjoy the roses”. The revelation is two parts, firstly that I am asking the trail to solve a problem for me (that is, to walk more slowly and enjoy the trail more), and secondly, I then realized that I have to let go of this request, which will ultimately likely lead to me to enjoy the trail even more. A revelation with some irony. This revelation was so sudden, and I was quite moved by it, that I almost had to sit down to take it all in. But true to my nature and my new revelation, I just kept on walking knowing that I was enjoying the trail very much.
I arrived at the Holiday Park super early and took the rest of the day off.