Monday through Friday. 620km-810km. Outskirts of Auckland south to Hamilton.
Pulsating would be an appropriate term to describe the Hakarimata Range that ripples south above the Waikato River and the towns of Huntly and Ngaruawahia. Like most of the tramping tracks that I’ve hiked through, it presents a scene like that of an abyss in which the forest walls cave in on themselves, creating a very intimate, slightly indimidating expeience. Towering Kauri trees and broadleaf ponga are cloaked by numerous vines varying in size from a pencil to that of a grown man’s forearm. Some of the vines, the supple jack, look as if they will take hold of you and wind you up into the canopy overhead, forever entombing you in their grasp. And below, the trail is woven over with roots. I trapeze over them generally with ease, using my trekking poles to help balance me. They keep me upright, and as an adding advantage, they help deter the prevalence of cobwebs that linger across the trail. It’s an adventure, indeed.
This last week has travelled through incredible opposites. Everything from walking a 60-kilometer day to get myself out of the city and back into the forest, from walking across farm pastures, besides state highways and then back into the forest, pasture, state highway. This sort of rhythm has brought me into the next phase of the hike in which the act of walking has become secondary while the experience primary. I no longer think of putting my foot in front of the other. It just does. And I tag along for the ride. And it has brought me south 800-kilometers through diverse lands, some of which I loved, and others not so much. But this 800 k’s has conditioned my body into a hard-working machine and now ready for what’s to come. It’s sculpted my muscles, shrivelled my fat reserves, enhanced my appetite, steadied my gaze. The mountainous tracks are next. I can feel their pull, an enticing magnetic force that I have missed since leaving my home in Bend, Oregon. I’m looking forward to feeling home again.