km walked today: 30
total TA km: 70
A fitful nights sleep in the newly christened 50/50 tent Sam brought along was ended with Jasper’s all too chipper, “Sam, Shepard… you up? Let’s go.” Fifteen minutes later we groggily rolled out of the tents. Not more than twenty feet from our tents stood a herd of wild Morgan horses. Walking cautiously towards us, they realized we were not in fact edible and instead turned and gracefully trotted off down the sand way into the rising sun. We started walking at 8:00am with the tide as low as we’d seen it. It was cold and blowing at us from the water, probably low 60s/high 50s.
As sore as we’d been, we trudged on down the beach, spotting the wildlife as we went.
We picked out two sets of tracks quickly after we left the campsite and soon saw the two figures ahead of us on the sandy horizon. We challenged ourselves to catch them. Too many breaks rendered us unable to catch them.
We carried a quick pace, a little over 5km/h, down the beach all day, with a ton of water breaks and a long lunch break along the way.
Before lunch though, the clouds over the water darkened to a very threatening black and before long had us pull over at the first rain drops. We put our rain gear on. I pulled out my ultralight north face rain jacket as we were quickly pelted with the ten minute storm. Now significantly colder we walked down the beach, while the sky cleared up very quickly into the light blue, super sunny sky that left mean sunburns on our faces, the backs of our legs and necks.
We stopped for an early lunch of homemade gorp, danish salami, peanut butter, and tortillas. Mushed all together, our lunch packed a lot of flavor and a ton of calories.
To keep busy, we started counting random things we encountered, whether that be the pace we were walking at or the countless Portuguese Man-o-war washing on shore. With almost every wave we would see tons of the jellyfish.
As we discovered, it’s 110-120 steps per minute, which means about 6,720 to 7,200 steps per hour… which we translated to roughly 10 million steps for our journey to Bluff.
At about 1:30pm we found ourselves being pushed to the dunes by the incoming tide, forced to walk in the soft sand twenty or so feet from the hard sand further down, toward the water. Nonetheless we powered through, eagerly talking about the amazing dinner we were going to cook ourselves.
Before 4pm we finished the 30+km and turned left into the sand driveway up to the grass plateau we anticipated we’d be staying at. We turned the corner and were greeted by a sign that read “Utea Park.” Feeling blessed, we guessed we’d get to cook under a gazebo of some sort, but instead we found our relative heaven.
Instantly greeted by Paul, he offered us ten dollars each for a campsite, or fifteen for a cute little four person cabin. The french couple we’d been following all day came and introduced themselves to us as Paul kept talking to us. Paul’s next offer, ten dollars for four beers sealed the deal. We sat down on the bench, succumbing to the pain in our feet, drank our beer and settled into our cabin. We hustled into the nice, quaint kitchen and dining room they offered to us, and before 6 we were eating curry rice and drinking hot tea. Twenty minutes later we decided on a full meal of spaghetti for seconds. Tania, who runs Utea Park alongside Paul gave us a hefty bucket of Tua Tua clams to cook with our meal.
More than satisfied, showered, and dead tired, we piled into our cabin, Ruru, ate a pack of gummi-worms for dessert, and deemed today a really good day.