Start: Bridge to Nowhere (1,191km)
Finish: Atene (1,263km)
Distance for the day: 72km
Cumulative distance: 1,263km
A day off! Well from running….
This was a major milestone for me; reaching the Whanganui River for the 120km downstream paddle. I worked hard to reach this point ‘cleanly’ – i.e. ready to start it on a fresh day, having established that was possible to do so around a week ago. Boy did I have to work hard to achieve it. It was a fairly meaningless thing to target really, but it certainly worked to drag me through some of those remote and rugged North Island sections.
To me, have a significant ‘water’ component to the trail really adds something special, and particularly appeals as I’ve become a passionate sea kayaker over the past couple of years. Thankfully it’s a real strength as opposed to a weakness, so not just a thorn in the side of my expedition plans as some may initially think.
So as a kayaker, a big river journey like this is pretty mouth watering prospect, particularly as the Whanganui River is such an iconic river for it’s size, remoteness dramatic gorges, exposed rock faces and incoming waterfalls.
Mark and I made the journey together. Neither of us had paddled anything like this distance before, but after the first hour we realised a 10km/hr pace was achievable, so we targeted a 70km day – which would certainly break the back of the journey. Mark and I have paddled a lot together before – in fact he got me into the sport and has taught me most of my skills – so it was special for us to be making the trip together. There were plenty of nice sections of fast water mixed in with some slacker stuff, and a huge amount to take in all along the way. I didn’t feel very comfortable cramped up in the cockpit of a kayak, and my legs didn’t really know what was going on after 18 days of consecutive running and suddenly finding themselves horizontal, but apart from that it was a pleasure to be doing something different. The main challenge was actually staying awake – I was a nodding dog at times – far too sedate this kayaking lark - so plenty of sugar was required to keep me going.
Mark and I both enjoyed the challenge of the distance, and it was far from easy, but the lure of an early finish dragged us through the tough afternoon session. It was the first time I have been finished for the day before 7pm, so to have eaten dinner by 7.30pm and be writing the blog before 10pm is a real, real treat.
Tomorrow we will finish the paddle and I will get back on two feet for a bit more distance towards the tally. We should finish the day on the south coast of the North Island – oh yes! Then, it will be a further few days heading down towards the island’s toe at Wellington. Exciting times now and ahead……
|Breakfast before the start of the Whanganui River paddle. Bacon and eggs :o)|
|A classic scene on the Whanganui. Murky water & incredible forest clad walls either side.|
|Mark taking a morning shower in one of the many waterfalls.|
|Not the 'slickest' kayak I've ever paddled, but it did the job. I didn't choose the colour(s)...|