We woke up to dark skies and a steady rain the morning we set out for the 42 Traverse and the Waione-cokers trail.￼ We quickly packed up our wet tent and sleeping bags, ate a piece of cheese and set out. We hadn’t slept well and were feeling a little apprehensive. To visualize the 42 Traverse, imagine walking 40 kilometres across a giant accordion. It rises only 400 meters, but it does so several times up steep, slippery clay tracks (made slipperier by the rain),￼ each time followed by a sharp descent into a gully. At the beginning of the trail there was a map showing the terrain with the approximate completion time. Seven hours it said – maybe if you were a goat being chased – it took us two hard days.
Fortunately, when we were ready to stop for the day, the rain paused long enough for us to put up our tent and boil some water for ramen noodles. Surprisingly, we had a wonderful sleep and started our second day with lots of energy. We scraped back into our wet clothes, ate another cold breakfast of cheese (it was still raining), and were off again. Surrounding us were several ancient volcanoes shrouded in mist, making the scenery majestic and grand.
The first little river that we crossed, we removed our boots and socks, rolled up our pants and waded across, feeling quite tickled that we managed to keep our footwear dry. It made no difference, shortly afterwards the trail went up the middle of a creek with no alternative without bushwhacking. By the time we reached the second river, our feet were as wet as the rest of us, but it didn’t matter – the rocky rapids ahead required stable footing. When we hit thigh deep water, we waded far enough upstream through the fast flowing water for a safe crossing. Our biggest concern was our phones – if we fell, there would be no more trail guide, no blog, no pictures. Happily we forded the river without incident, feeling quite rugged, in the company of two rare adventure-loving, rapid-loving ducks whose name I forget.
We didn’t want another wet night on the trail, so we pushed through until the end. The rain finally stopped, the sun came out and we found a good place to rough camp. We woke up to blue skies and will take the day to dry everything out, charge our phones (rain makes using the solar charger problematic), and slowly make our way to the Tongariro Alpine crossing trailhead. The Tongariro will be our most challenging trek on the North Island, climbing up a volcano to 1866 meters. We are not expecting a walk in the park but we are far more ready now than we were.