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I know I’m not the fastest tramper in the world. That’s OK with me. I just spent 4 days hiking a track that should’ve only taken 8 hours according to the DOC sign at the beginning of the track.

I knew to carry extra water as there are no springs or streams along the way, but I was wholly unprepared for the mud and the steepness of the grade on that track.

To be fair, the first day included 14 kilometers of road walking to get to the start of the track. I should’ve broken down the hike into 3 days, but pressed on anyway. I didn’t make it to the designated camp site the first day. No worries. I had plenty of water so I decided to take my time.

I made it to the campsite at the end of day 2. I really wanted to go farther, but the mud and steepness made me decide to play it safe. To my surprise, Team Netherlands arrived about an hour after me and shared 1/2 a liter of water.

As day 3 started, I was determined to go the 10 kilometers to the water source near the end of the track. As the day wore on, and my frequency of falling increased, it was clear I wasn’t going to make it. I am eternally grateful to Martin and Monica, trampers from Switzerland, who shared a liter of water with me. I would’ve been in dire straights without the kindness of strangers!

Finally, day 4 arrived. I was 4.6 kilometers from the water, and while there was still mud and steep descents, I managed to make it both to the water and to the end of the track. The Northland Forests are no joke. I don’t know why they are so muddy, but one tramper suggested that the vegetation is so dense that the water just doesn’t have anyplace to go!

Now that I’ve survived that stretch, I’m pressing on to Kerikeri. I’m hoping the East Coast walks are a little more forgiving on this poor battered soul.

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