We had a plan for today. Get up early, leave early, and get into the forest. Add a couple of ish’s in there and we were close enough.
We’d bought eggs and bacon the night before and so cooked a breakfast fit for hi-kings. This delayed us a little further but it was worth it.
Clement, Dawn and Avril were all around the breakfast table with us. It was like an ad for Kerrygold, but there was no horse going to France on this occasion. Dawn and Avril were driving up to the Cape and kindly offered to take our, what was supposed to be 5kg, box up to the dairy cum post office. This was great, the T-Amigos walked up the road into the sun that had already risen. Halfway down the road we got a beep, it was the two sisters carting our weighty contraband up to the dairy. We were about 90 grams over. This meant twice the price. Myself and Lauren looked at each other..”Fuck it”. We paid it. The sun was rising uncontrollably, the day wasn’t going to last forever. Plus, poor Clement had waited for us long enough. Bacon, eggs, packing, I don’t think he would’ve coped with us dividing up our bag of powdered milk to retain our bantamweight status. Neither would I in fairness.
We were off, 9km down the road we got to the edge of the Herekino Forest. But this was no ordinary forest. This was a magical forest with pixies and brightly coloured mushrooms. No. This place had vines, muck, bamboo and vines. I was waiting for Baloo to pop out and educate us on the bear necessities. Jungle, definitely jungle. Or bush, as the Kiwis would affectionately call it.
Straight in, no messing, sure we were having the time of our lives, the protagonists in the latest Jules Verne novel. Up, up and up some more. There was nothing to see left or right other than dense foliage, until a clearing. We could see for miles and miles, I finally knew what Roger Daltrey was wailing about all these years.
Soon after, we encountered our first big Kauri tree. It was big by Irish standards but not really by Kauri standards. These things get big.
After lunch, Clement felt a “tic, tic, tic” in his achilles. This ticking ended up being a countdown to a swollen ankle and him being unable to continue. To further his luck, one of Clement’s poles snapped. It was still usable, but not with the same confidence as before.
It was coming up to 5pm our cut off point for finding a campsite. Clement’s ankle was getting worse and we needed space for two tents. Not an easy thing to find in the bush. We kept going anyway and we came to a tricky descent to a stream. Once we got down, we realised that this would be a sweet camping spot. We had water, space and Clement could stick his swollen ankle into the cool running water. It was dinner and an early night, for we rise at daybreak…ish. – AM