Sitting relaxed at the Ahipara holiday park all showered up and refreshed I can begin to really appreciate the madness that was 90 mile beach. It seems so long ago since we took those first crucial steps in Cape Reinga, happy and so enthusiastic, ready to hit the trail to show what we are made of. The feet felt strong, the bags heavy but feeling good on our backs, I guess a lot of things where a lot easier than I had thought but a lot was so much harder.
First stop was Twilight camp, nice campsite with both long drops and water and juggling French/Germans. It was only 13km from our starting point but was long anticipated as we had to wait for the tide to be low and therefor only left in the late afternoon. Our next day didn’t turn out to be much longer due to a late morning start and tired feet so on day 3 we realised that we wouldn’t finish the beach as soon as hoped so we had to up our km’s leaving us with 54 to split on two days. I honestly don’t understand how people make it in 3 days, it is freaking long and rough. There definitely were times where I wanted to throw my 16kg bag down and crawl-up and just cry for a while, but instead I powered through, well there was a few tears at times. Every time we put up our tent behind the dunes and settled in for the night the energy returned and it all seemed worthwhile again. Our tent is called Marshmallow by the way.
To sum it up a bit, 90 mile beach was: 4 dead penguins, what appeared to be a dead baby dolphin, stranded small whale, stranded massive whale (both long dead), lots of dead puffer fish, what looked like a dinosaur egg but turned out to be some sort of sea sponge and a dying baby seal that I desperately tried to save but it was too late. It was tired and hungry and my poor efforts to carry it back in to the sea didn’t do much so I left it with a heavy heart and after it gave me a long look with its sad eye, that’s when the first tears happened.
Filling our water bottles from dodgy streams wasn’t uncommon or second guessed. The tents went up wherever it was remotely flat, preferable next to a stream, depending on our water levels and out of the sand of course. I have even gotten myself in a good setup routine and all my stuff has a special place in my bag, oh and let’s not forget about all the couscous we have been eating. And lastly all the sand, like so much sand, sand, sand, sand….
I didn’t mind the sand or the sea and parts of me will miss the atmosphere it brings but sand is incredible hard on feet and it can get demotivating to see things in the distance that just never seem to get any closer, to walk for hours knowing you haven’t come close to your end goal, let alone the end of the beach, it was a little bit emotionally draining and I will not miss that!! When I decided to walk barefoot because it felt good at the time I managed to get small blisters all over my toes, so including the two big ones I counted up 9, ouch!!
So yes, we ended up spending 5 days in total on our first stretch, and we are having our first rest day already, but having met a lot of other hikers we stopped feeling bad as even the fittest of them all limped in to camp. No, 90 mile beach is not for the light hearted.
Can’t wait for some forest walking.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!