Day 28 (Mon 7 Dec): Remiger Road Campsite to Puhoi
Started 8am, finished 9.30am, 6k.
Pain in the head status: Had the worst migraine of the trail so far, which made me appreciate the mildness of the ones that have gone before and their responsiveness to medicines. This one came on over night, was more severe in nature with uncomfortable nausea, and lingered in the morning despite medication. Not nice. As usual, my mind hared off in multiple directions trying to determine the cause of this one – but most likely, it was just because it was a long, hot, hard day of walking yesterday and this is my body’s way of telling me that it wants a break. I can wish otherwise, and mournfully bemoan that I’m not as strong or fit as other people, or be glad that I can do what I can, and accept that sometimes I can’t go as far and fast as I’d like.
Word of the day: Wetware, brain, the biological parallel to hardware and software.
It was 6.40am before I stirred this morning, a significant sleep-in, and I really wanted to keep on sleeping. Coffee and breakfast didn’t succeed in kick-starting the wake-up process – I drifted along the track to Puhoi in a zombie-like state. My wetware felt water-logged – weighed down with a foggy fatigue. I do remember it was a very nice track, gravelled and easy, through some bush, but nothing much else registered.
I attempted resuscitation by food at the Puhoi General Store, consuming another coffee, a vegetarian filled roll and an almond croissant, but the wetware was still failing to compute. I considered our options for the day. The Te Araroa instructed us to paddle down Puhoi River, the route the Bohemians that settled in this area used to trade with Aucklanders. This could only be done around high tide, which was more than three hours away. Could I be bothered waiting around for that long? The alternative was walking along the road, which was busy and included a significant bump over to Waiwera. The thought of that was dreadful. Which left the third option – call the Parental Taxi Service (PTS).
We went with the third option, and the PTS was incredibly obliging, interrupting their activities to perform the rescue drive. They also supplied more food for resuscitation, including sourdough bread, gingerbread, kombucha and fish and chips for Tony. Because they hadn’t been expecting us, they didn’t have ice-cream, but plenty of chocolate.
I finally listened to my tired body and sore head, and put myself down for a nap in the afternoon, which proved to be the exact remedy that I needed. While I was sleeping, Mum did loads of washing for us – many loads, including a second wash of our tramping clothes after a tissue snuck into the washing machine and fragmented itself over everything. Tissues can be malicious like that. Maybe it’s revenge for being covered in snot and stuffed in a pocket.
Simple delights of the day: hand lotion, pyjamas, a real bed and pillow, new underwear.
Day 29 (Tues 8 Dec): Long Bay to Devonport
Started 7.45am, reached Takapuna Beach Cafe around 11.10am; started walking again around 1.20pm, reached Devonport 2.50pm, 23k.
Pain in the head status: A bit dodgy in the morning, but it felt like the kind of post-bad-migraine-hangover headache that could be rectified with a strong coffee, nurofen and some breakfast. And so it was.
Word of the day: Vicarious, endured or done by one person substituting for another; felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another.
The Parental Taxi Service (PTS) delivered us to Long Bay for a delightful day of slack-packing (where you only take a day pack, and leave your tramping pack behind). I apologize for denigrating day-walkers. Walking without a pack on is utter bliss. I can’t even claim to be slack-packing – I was no-packing, as Sherpa Tony shouldered the day pack. So I’m even a grade lower than the average day-walker, but it feels good.
Thank goodness it was overcast for much of the day, because it was drippingly hot, only occasionally relieved by a light northerly breeze. Despite both of us being born and bred in Auckland, this was a new walk for us – until we reached Milford Beach – and unexpectedly beautiful along the coast. We joined the parade of dog walkers, passed people trying their luck fishing and watched the container ships lined up patiently in the harbour, waiting for their turn in the docks. We relied on our poles to navigate slippery rocks slimed with mud, but breaking up the beach walking with rock scrambling and promenade walking was good for the feet. Rangitoto Island loomed large and the Sky Tower slowly poked into view.
As the rocks and cliffs along the beaches changed to lava flow from Lake Pupuke, we passed one beach that was very familiar to me, Thorne Bay, in between Milford and Takapuna beaches. I spent many days on the sand and in the water here, as my aunt and uncle owned a house on the hilltop above the beach, with amazing views over the harbour. One of the homeowners on this beach has executed their riparian rights by fencing off part of the beach outside their property, but the Council didn’t allow them to restrict public access to the beach entirely. Thank you, Council.
Highlight of the day was meeting Jaz for a remarkable iced coffee at Takapuna Beach Cafe, and having a good yarn and catch up. She is unfortunately still unable to walk on her tendonitis-afflicted foot and is being forced to walk Te Araroa vicariously through other people’s blogs. Fingers crossed she’s back on the track after Christmas. The importance of going at your own pace and not pushing too hard was duly discussed.
We skipped the section through Cheltenham Beach and North Head, as both of us have walked that several times before, and slipped into Devonport through a park off the main road. The most difficult part of the day was escaping from Devonport – the PTS picked us up, and we sat in traffic that queued like a Boxing Day sale. This is why I commute to work by foot.