Start: Ahipara (101km)
Finish: Mangamuka (154km)
Distance for the day: (53km)
Cumulative distance: (154km)
Today was always going to be tough; the start of the back-to-back/ running when tired routine which is going to challenge me more than anything else over the course of the expedition. In reality it’s going to be a couple of weeks before my body get used to what I’m asking it to do, so I’m aware there is plenty of fighting through to be done to start with.
|Entering the forest for the first time|
I split the day into two halves; each involving a long stint in the jungle-like forests that cover vast swathes of this part of New Zealand (Northland). It’s a sub-tropical climate up here and although it’s probably not technically jungle, it certainly feels like it. The undergrowth was unbelievably dense, and despite having a path cut through and excellent waymarking, the tree roots, overhanging undergrowth and ridiculous amounts of mud made for extremely slow going. Imagine a 15km high level ridge walk in the Lake District clad in dense forest as described above, and that’s about how it was like this afternoon. This afternoon’s section followed a ridge and linked all the summits, so there were steep ascents and descents to contend with all the way and zero traction due to the mud. My carbon trekking poles were an absolute saviour, but how they survived the abuse I gave them I’m not sure.
|Heading back into the high country forests after lunch|
My estimated timings were way out due to the slow going, but they are long challenging sections, so it was nice to get them out the way in a single day. I came down off the ridge after dark at 9pm tonight after a 7.30am start this morning. Despite it being such a long day I only covered 53kms, possibly my slowest ever average pace for a run! Physically I felt fine, but in reality I was on terrain that for the most part, simply wasn’t runnable.
My support guys were brilliant, and remained calm despite my slow progress and late arrivals at planned rendez-vous points.
|The view from our overnight stop - not that I've seen it yet...|
Tomorrow I continue my journey across to the east coast, hopefully getting close to Kerikeri for an overnight stop. There is another long forest section, but the elevation looks more sensible so hopefully it will be faster going. I’m not holding my breath….