Day 14: Paihia to Russell Forest

Day 14: Paihia to Russell Forest

Distance Covered: 19 km
Date: 2016-11-12

Today's main objective was to catch a special ferry across the Waikare Inlet. We set it up with the hikers from yesterday so all we had to do was walk a few km from camp to the harbor by 5 PM. Easy! And it was!

The trail around the coast was nice with a long bridge across muddy marshes, forays into the forest and over little streams and then bursting it out onto the beach again. Before we knew it, it was over and the waiting began.

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We had about 6 hours so we each got a great breakfast that filled us up. Our Cyprus friend showed up a little later. About an hour later, the other hikers showed up. We saw them go to the little shop and figured they'd make the way to us next. Instead, out of the corner of my eye I saw them get on the vehicle ferry!

The vehicle ferry costs only $1, but then you have to walk 20 km along roads, or 24 km through trail. And you don't get to see the Mangrove Forest and such you see on the direct ferry. I jogged over to see what was going on. The young woman was happy to see us. She had been trying to reach us and explained her group decided to do the hike instead. She didn't seem thrilled. She worked hard on our behalf, though. She went to where we stayed, got my last name from the clerk, found me on Facebook, and sent a message. Then she brought the umbrella to the ferry captain to give to us. Wow!

So off they went and our ferry party was down to three, which increased our cost a little. Not bad, but not great. And we still had 3.5 hours to wait. We couldn't use our phones too much because the next stretch is long and we need to be conservative. We whittled down time by napping, buying food at the store, chatting, and walking around (without our packs). On one of my walkabouts, I found a young woman from Chile who was doing the hike and came for the same ferry. Our group was up to four. She said she had three more people coming and suddenly we were at seven!

We now have three from the US, and one each from Cyprus, UK, Chile, and Australia. More International fun. Together, we talked about our experiences. Three of them heard about the (damned) Raetea and opted to skip it. Totally understandable! One of them had their feet swell so much she couldn't put her shoes on and had to walk the last two days in flip flops!

A short time later, we met up with the ferry boat and found ourselves zipping across the bay and towards the inlet. This was the first time we had done more than 5 km per hour in a couple of weeks and so it was that much more fun. Twisting around the Mangrove Forest was cool too.

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And then the ride was over and it was time to walk again. We went about 4 km through a small settlement and then small farms. The trail then asks you to ford a stream, which also marks the start of private Maori land so that was the end of the walking day for us. We hunted around for a place to camp and settled for a rutted, sloping area full of thorny vines. We just squeezed our tent in with only minor tent and leg damage from the vines.

Tomorrow, we ford the stream and then there's quite a bit of walking in the stream. Should be fun!