Friday, 3 June 2016

Te Araroa Chapter 7 - Lakes and the autumn

The time slowed down for us as the autumn approached, the air was full of nostalgic sleepiness and we felt we were getting closer to the end of our journey. It still was over 250 km to walk, but suddenly we felt it is very close and it filled us with feeling that accomplishment is close, but at the same time it meant, the end is near as well and it was a bit terryfying in a way. But I won't jum ahead.

We saw already in the Stag Saddle what we will be walking in the following days. 100-ish km on the gravel roads.
I think sometimes there is no need for describtion, so except for "crunch crunch" it looked like that.

Když jsme vycházeli na naši další etapu, podzim už byl hodně cítit ve vzduchu a to mě naplnilo zvláštní nostalgií, navozovalo ospalou náladu těch podzimních dní a my jsme začali pociťovat, že se pomalu blížíme konci naší cesty. Sice nás čekalo ujít ještě přes 250 km, ale najednou to všechno bylo blíž, což nás naplnilo pocitem, že už brzy dosáhneme svého cíle, ale i zároveň to všechno skončí. Fakt, že "to dokážeme a opravdu dokončíme, co jsme si před pár měsíci vysnili" v nás vzbudil příjemný pocit zadostiučinění, ale zároveň se tam vkrádal smutek, že to opravdu vše brzy skončí. Ale nebudu předbíhat.

Už v stag Saddle jsme viděli, kam budeme pochidovat dalších několik dní na 100 km dopředu. Po prašných cestách.

Which way to go?

The shy mountains starting to show their faces

Autumn is here!

Lake Pukaki

Our campsite for the night

Here he is...Aoraki

On the way to Twizel

Guess what's for dinner!

After 2 days mostly on the gravel roads with awesome mountain and lake views we got to Twizel and had super tasty dinner from wild mushrooms (autumn is here indeed) and got up to the third day on the gravel road to Lake Ohau from where we'd go back to the mountains.
The nature was playing a true colour symphony - blue sky, vibrant blue lakes, yellow leaves, red leaves, mornings with mist that made everything so mysterious and afternoons full of rich colours of sky, leaves and ripe reosehips and rowanberries everywhere. And juicy fat salmon as we walked along the canal and Lake Ruataniwha... :) We walked all the way along the river and combined with the heat it made it quite a long day. Roman even caught a small trout, but it was just a baby, so he let him go. So we had a tuna for dinner for a change :) !

Po dvou dnech strávených na prašných cestách jsme se dostali do Twizelu, kde jsme si dali super jídlo z kozáků (jedna z mála hub, co tu roste), abychom zahájili třetí den opět na prašňačce k jezeru Ohau, odkud jsme opět měli zamířit do hor (jupí).
Příroda opravdu hrála podzimní symfonie, měli jsme super štěstí na počasí - azurová obloha, neuvěřitelně modrá jezera a do toho žluté a červené podzimní listí a spousta zralých šípků a jeřabin.  Po tajemných ránech, když se všude povalovala mlha, se to odpoledne změnilo v explozi barev. A v kanálech spojujících jezera plavalo spousta tlusťoučkých lososů :) Tak jsme si to tak kroutili podél řeky... A Roma dokonce chytil pstruha v jezeře Ohau, ale byl to prcek, tak ho nechal plavat. Tak jsme is pro změnu dali tuňáka k véče :)

Misty games

You might not believe it, but it was unbelievably hot.
The Ohau range ahead. 
Our most famous photo dedicated to allTe Araroa-ers!

After 3 days of beautiful day and "crunch crunch", we were finally heading to the hills again. But we had to beat the wind on the shores of Lake Ohau first! What a blow! We thought it was going to blow us away completely! The area was quite remote, few houses along the road and we turned from it after few km and started to climb again - inside a forrest! Quite a nice change after many days. After some time, we got out of the forrest and saw the beautiful Lake Ohau from above. The clouds started to pack, we met 2 hunters and had a nice chat with them and headed to the old shearer's tin hut around 8 km away from the saddle. There was some Te Araroa River fetish involved, so we crossed the river to the true right and kept walking very fast as the sun was going to set very soon and we couldn't see the hut yet. Roman started to "man-panic" a bit that we missed it, and just when I was going to explain that's not possible we saw it, so we hurried in. It was an awesome tiny tidy hut with one creature inside, which wasn't human, but cute gecko and after 27 km we were happy to be there.

It started to pour quite a lot at night and the morning wasn't different, so we decided to stay for the day. So we had a chance to stuff our bellies with extra chocolate (Roman said this time we can) as we packed extra! After 7 weeks on the trail we feel it's not an issue to carry more food or walk all day. It's quite funny to go back to the beginning of the diary to read how "awfully heavy" our backpacks were :) It takes time to get used to something, but we got used to this "I walk therefore I am" state and it's really great state of things :) As I have written in the diary we got skinnier, that made Roman very unhappy as he was so handsome and muscly haha  :) But I told him not to worry as he will get his musles back during the winter wen he carries stones and builds snowmans (with boobs).

So I decided to use the time to draw a herbal atlas of the most common Te Araroa plants everybody encounters more that 100x times during the walk which fills everybody with such joy. Observe and learn (sizes to scale with Dwarf Beetroot and Nonbrushed Curly":

The "Dwarf beetroot" and "Nonbrushed curly" and their botanical atlas:
"Snow grass - likes to be slippery in all kinds of weather, gives you tiny splinters, ideal as leg tangler"
"Matagouri - grows in large groups on purpose (evil). Concentration of spikes per cubical metre is very high. The level of painfullness is however smaller than Spear grass. Still pricks like shit."
"Spear grass - sharp and hard, pricks through everything and hurts like shit. Walk around only by LARGE CURVE that is mostly impossible."
"Spear grass - small: Younger sister. Softer than older sister, pricks mercilessly, but can be passed around mostly."
However the highlight of the day was yet to come. It stopped raining in the afternoon, so we went outside to play and look around. We saw many rabbits everywhere, so I decided I will play hunter. I took a metal stick and started stalking a rabbit, but Roman didn't see my intention and scared him away. Well, bugger, so I went back inside to read a book and draw plants. After few minutes inside I heard excited shout "LENIIIIIIIII!" and I know what it was going to be! He got one! 
Just to clarify, rabbits are pest in New Zealand, so we were helping the nature :) And to help even more, we decided to cut down one small wildling pine and use the wood to cook the rabbit. It is not really ideal to use wet wood obviously, but that was kind of all that was around except for few dry branches, so we did our best and after few hours of roasting with garlic and olive oil we had amazing wild caught dinner, the best on Te Araroa (sorry Kohan restaurant, you got the second position after this :)
Da rabbit

Lake Ohau

from the saddle

spear grass :)

gecko cutie

when the weather sucks

hut life

murderous weapon improvization

I'm a Stark, not a Botlon, but you gotta do what you gotta do

it was yum!
The next day we got up with the stars still on night sky and walked along the rivers until we got to Ahuriri river which we expected to cross quite easily, but .... it was sooo flooded. Bad omen, Ok, before we decided to change the plan and walk around we went to the bank and checked the flow. But it was impossible and we were destinned to walk along to the nearest bridge that was around 7 km downstream which meant we would need to walk the 7 km on the other side as well before we re-connect to the trail. The problem was we couldn't walk on the bank as the river was flooded and banks were washed away or under water. So we had to walk on private property paddocks and it didn't give us very good feeling. The fact we could hear rifle shots didn't make us feel any better, so it was a race to the bridge! When we finally got there and crossed to the other side clouds started to slowly close, so we walked fast on ...guess what! Crunch crunch :) It was very loooong 7 km till we got back to the trail, so that day instead of walking 400 m across the river we walked extra 13 km or so :) But what can you do! :)
 When we got back to the track, heavy rain broke, so we had to pitch a tent, again, on private paddock before we entered the conservation area and were praying the farmer is having a nice cozy time at home as we really don't like to tress-camp on private property. It was still very early, but we decided to go to sleep to be freshest possible for our last chapter on Te Araroa that started the next day...

400 metres or 13 km? 13 km it is!

you can't cross this ... taa dadada tata

da bridge

Tent life!
Stay tuned for last chapter!

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