We camped at the road end full of confidence and expectation. We checked out the track and thought that it didn’t look too bad. Unfortunately both of us didn’t get much sleep and when I heard Michael’s tent zip open I popped my head out and said “lets go aye?’
It was 2:30am and we set off running. We weren’t pushing it but I thought we were doing alright. When we got to Herepai we were already 20 mins down. We watered up and set off again: straight into the bush behind the hut. About 5 minutes of blindly bush bashing Veiwranger got us back on track. About half an hour later we got lost again, Viewranger was stalled and we were shivering in the clag 5 minutes from the track down a spur. We probably lost half an hour before we were back on the track again. We finally found a sheltered area and Jacketed up.
As the sun rose and the track became clearer my confidence started to return. I figured we could catch up an hour on the downhills and on the flat. Silly me. The first few falls in the mud were funny. When they entered double figures my sense of humour was waning. We were losing time and I couldn’t find any sections were I could gain it back. Uphills were hard, obviously, but the downhills were slippery and trying to go fast just wasn’t happening. Anytime I tried to run on the flat I’d fall on my arse. When we finally reached Drac Biv we were nearly 2 hours behind time and I wasn’t feeling good at all.
I had entered a dark place, my stomach wasn’t cooperating and my energy levels were low. I had hit the wall and realised I wasn’t ever going to make it under 24 hours, or for that matter, make it to Kaitoke. This information I kept from Michael, hoping somehow I’d get a second wind. Nope, it only got worse. Michael realised we weren’t going to make it too and that I was struggling badly. We slowed down even more and I was able to start enjoying the trip for the staggering beauty of the surrounds.
We passed Junction Knob even though my mind was telling me “bail out now”. It was a manic trip to Maungahaki Hut with highs and lows. I was worried I’d lose concentration and fall of the ridge. The views were stunning but they were of a Hut that seemed light-years away. It was 7pm by the time we reached the Hut and I was wasted. Thinking it get might dark (probably wrongly) while we were in the Tararua Peaks I suggested we stay put. We also decided that if I could convince my wife to pick us up we’d bail out at Kime. Selfishly while Michael was calling his wife I pinched the very warm fleece blanket and closed my eyes.
We both had a good nights sleep and woke up feeling much better. There was no wind or clag and the sun was coming up. This was a morning I’ll never forget and with all the pressure of a race against time off we cruised through the Tararua Peaks.
It was my favourite section of the S-K(ime) for me due to the perfect conditions although I did fall 5 metres off the ridge finally stopping my roll by grabbing some grasses. The only damage was a bruised Coccyx. The rest of the trip was uneventful, slowly (oh so slowly) winding down to Otaki Forks.