After winding south through farmland I entered the Hunua Ranges Regional Park. Some of the trails were maintained with steps and walkways while others were rather more rugged. I hadn't planned my water too well and ended up having to walk till 9pm one day so that I could reach the dam where I finally filled up my bottles and secretly camped the night.
The following day I was making good progress when I checked my GPS which indicated that I was off the “track” I should be walking on. So I retraced my steps looking for a turning I had missed and I found a faint trail leading off the well marked trail that I had been following. The track notes said that “advance tramping skills” were needed for this section – so it seemed plausible that this was in deed the route I should be following. In the forest it was difficult to tell if this was in fact a trail for trampers. In the beginning it correspond to the GPS “track”, so I kept pushing forward down a steep ridge. After about 45mis I knew this was also not the correct path, as I was heading off in the wrong direction once again. The steepness and vegetation meant that attempting to bush bash was ridiculous. So I decided to once again retrace my steps and get back to the well marked trail because from what I could tell on the GPS the well marked trail was leading out of the forest to a farm track quite a few miles from where I needed to be. I would just have to put in some extra miles.
I started to climb back up the ridge through the trees which hardly existed and now seemed to be even harder to find there were areas where the track levelled out and I didn't know which way to go there just wasn't a path. The GPS wasn't helping. I was using it to follow a track which I either hadn't been able to find or was wrong. Some of the trees looked familiar - but I think I just wanted them to. I was starting to feel uneasy, it was late in the day, I was tired and I didn't know which way to go to get me back to the trail. I took some deep breaths, then applied some logic getting out my map and compass. The compass indicated that the well marked trail was in a totally different direction to where I felt I should be walking.... I followed the compass and within only a few hundred meters found the trail. It was a huge relief and yet another reminder of how the forests can disorientate me.
Somehow that night the forest had lost its beauty and I wanted to be out of it but the light was fading so I had not choice but to find a tiny space and pitch my tent amongst the trees.
Just after I had fallen asleep I was woken up by the shriek of a possum close by. Having already experienced a possum landing on my tent once before, I didn't want a repeat performance. So I made lots of noise and turned on my torch. The two of us played this game for much of the night.
The following morning I slept in and didn't start walking until around 11am. The forest once again looked beautiful and would you believe it that trail took me the the exit point I was heading for all along. There was an error on the GPS “track” I was following!!