9 February 2012

Mangaokewa River Track

The route then followed the Mangaokewea river. The first section was a pleasant track which would have been nicer if it wasn't for the pouring rain but rain has been a feature of the trail!
At first the route wasn't well signposted and after a couple of hours we were pleased to see a sign for the Te Araroa. Then the path disappeared and was pretty much none existent but there were obvious orange makers we and it was easy enough to follow the river bank through the long grass. The route was getting prettier and prettier despite the torrential rain!!

As we continued the vegetation got more and more difficult to fight our way through and there were sections where the brambles were waist high and ripping into our legs with every step we took. In some places it was impossible to get along the river bank due to minor landslides or totally impenetrable vegetation so we climbed vertically up steep banks for a few hundred meters and some how managed to keep going but only to find another almost impenetrable section of brambles or landslide. At one point the earth did give way below me but I managed to scramble to the side quickly!

It was such a battle to make progress and I wasn't sure that we were winning although we had been walking for hours in the pouring rain.

In yet another seemingly impossible section where there seemed no way forward we spotted a fallen tree over the river next to which someone had strung a rope to act as a handrail. The other side of the river did look as if is was easier... As Madeleine was gingerly taking tiny steps across the fallen tree the reality of how dangerous our actions were dawned on me. In the pouring rain she was balancing on a slippery tree trunk which was about 2 meters above a swollen river wearing a heavy pack that was laden with a weeks food. If she fell the consequences would be disastrous!! She was a third of the way across and I almost couldn't bare to watch her. As she reached to end she slipped and fell onto a branch on the bank – she had made it! I had no choice but to follow her I did so quickly so as not to loose my bottle. There was a brief moment when I tasted fear but I swallowed it and made it safely to the other side.

At that moment I wasn't sure how we were going to get out of that track but I did know that we would not be recrossing on that tree trunk!

We spent a very wet night camping by the side of the river. In the morning we continued along the Mangaokewa River Track eventually reaching a dirt road and walking for more hours in relentless rain. The following night we slept in a hay barn in the company of a decomposing sheep.

These couple of days aren't captured on film (due to the rain) and weren't too pleasant but we do laugh about them now. As we later discovered the river track was in fact closed.


Linda said...

Sorry to hear it's been a bit of a struggle. Hope it stops raining soon. Look after yourselves.
Lots of love



Danny W said...

Hi Philippa,

Today is the first time i've had a chance to read your blog. Ive been glued to it for the last 45 mins!! I've leaving Age Concern at the end of march to go travelling. We are coming to NZ so may be able to catch up at some point. Force be with you and all that
Danny x

Helen said...

Great to catch up with you in Palmerston North. We're now in Central Otago and the sun is shining, hope it is with you. Saw an article in the local paper yesterday about a group running a 'how to cross a river course' - and I thought of you two!