One Does Simply Walk Into Mordor: Day Six

waihaha hut

Day six (January 1st, 2016) was our rest day after hiking three days on the road and two days in a forest.

By now we had hiked/hitchhiked 149kms, so, as you can imagine, we were in need of a well-earned rest.

As previously mentioned, we had made our way to the Waihaha Hut in the middle of the North Island and had celebrated New Year’s Eve here.

It’s a 10 bunk hut overlooking the Waihaha River and is a central point for the Te Araroa Trail in the North Island – the trail that covers the entire country.

It includes a small fireplace, a long table, sink (indoor and outdoor) as well as a standard drop toilet.

waihaha hut

As it is managed by the Department of Conservation in New Zealand, there is a fee to stay at the hut.

Upon payment, you are given a ticket prior which you are required to place in a ticket box.

It works on an honesty system, but I have no doubt there are plenty of people don’t pay to stay there.

All that said, there was no way we could completely relax 100% with the knowledge that Keith still hadn’t turned up.

The plan for the previous day was to hike from Kakaho Road campsite, head south and then west to the Bog Inn Hut, and then follow a small section of the Te Araroa Trail to the Waihaha Hut.

After spending the day recovering and relaxing, it was at about 5pm that Matt, Nelson and I had a long discussion by the river about what we would do should Keith not show up on the morning of January 2nd.

If he didn’t show up, the trek would have to be abandoned and would almost certainly turn into a search for him. Possibly even a rescue mission should he be in trouble.

We threw around many scenarios about what we would do.

Some of them included hiking back to the main road and signalling for help. Another one was to hike up to Bog Inn Hut on the track we should have arrived at the hut on and see if he was there.

After I had finished filtering my water, I headed back up the path to the hut to start putting myself backpack together.

No sooner had I arrived back up at the front of the hut, a tall, skinny French guy emerged from the forest and in the direction of the trail that came from Bog Inn Hut.

I quickly asked him:”Mate, you wouldn’t have happened to come across a short, Asian guy in your travels, would you?”

“Do you mean Keith?”

My heart started racing.

“Yes! Have you seen him?”

“Yeah I have. He’s about five minutes behind me on the trail. We spent New Year’s Eve together in Bog Inn Hut.”

waihaha hut

I seriously could have cried. At this point, I couldn’t have given a shit about the trek. All I cared was Keith’s whereabouts and his well-being.

And sure enough, five minutes later Keith came out of the forest with a huge smile on his face.

So, by now, you’re probably wondering how we got separated? Well, we were still wondering the same thing so we asked him.

It seemed as though he thought we had gone ahead of him after he left the toilet, so he followed the trail we had set out; all the while yelling out our names.

waihaha hut

He even went as far as drawing his name in the sand at the trailhead that headed west to Bog Inn Hut in the hope that should we have been behind him, we would see it and follow it.

At no point did we see these signs, but we never bothered looking at the ground at the trailheads seeing as were looking for signs.

Keith hiked his way to Bog Inn Hut and once he worked out that the trail from that hut to Waihaha Hut was long and very steep, he decided to stay put until the following day.

His French friend arrived at the hut a short while later and they drank his wine to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

waihaha hut

As they both were going the same way on January 1st, they decided to hike the trail together.

So after spending the previous 24 hours worrying about our mate, it turns out he was alright after all.

However, the lesson we learnt from this whole ordeal was that communication is absolute key and nothing is ever obvious.

We probably should have followed Keith to the toilet and waited for him there rather than our camp spot.

waihaha hutConversely, why he never came back to where we were, still puzzles me. However, as mentioned, we didn’t exactly communicate to him that we would be meeting back at our camp spot.

All that aside, our trip was back on track and we sat around chatting with our new found French friend for the rest of the night.

What a start to 2016!

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