Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Queen Charlotte Track

I had great hopes of completing the Queen Charlotte track over the last few days, but sadly the 2nd day proved too much for my legs and I was forced to beg rescue from the water taxi coming to collect my bag (and as it turned out, me!) I just knew I wouldn't cope with walking another 20km when I could barely stand up straight.

I started very well at Ship Cove where Captain Cook stayed a few times to fix his ship, it began steeply uphill the down the other side to Resolution Bay, then up again for ages and around (finally) to Furneaux Lodge, a beautiful place I'd heard about from this couple who had gotten married there. I arrived 5 minutes before the boat picking me up was due to depart at 3pm then they nicely deposited me across the way at Camp Bay, where I stayed with a lovely and inspiring 83yr old lady who has been visiting all corners of the world over the last 17 years, but not the normal places you would think an old lady would go, no she went to Burma, Cuba, Mexico, Kenya, Mongolia, Bali, the Trans Siberian Railway, and Croatia among others. She is so gutsy, I was very impressed. Having a hot shower at her place was even more amazing - all the tramping I've done I'd never had the good fortune of a hot warming shower at the end of the day, it made such a difference to my achy muscles.

The next morning I got up early, dropped my bag off at the wharf for the water taxi to collect, and headed off for a gruelling day walking along the ridge line of some mountains. It was sunny and warm, blue skies and beautiful. I managed the first 12km in good time, to the first campsite, stopped for lunch and headed off again. The second 12km was super hard - slippery, muddy, full of rockslides waiting to happen and steep up and downhill. I did take a half hour detour up a steep hill to Eatwell Lookout which was amazing!! Stunning 180 degree views of the sounds all around me, green blue water and lovely hills rising up everywhere around me in the distance. I got quite drained the further along I went not knowing where I was, it took about 3hrs to get to the 2nd campsite, where I only stopped briefly as the sun was rapidly descending and I didn't want to get caught out in the dark. It was another 2hrs from the 2nd campsite going up and down - I was so dejected to see the 6km to go sign, ages later I saw a 1km to go sign, which made me very happy, I was freezing cold by that stage, it was about 6pm. I got to the hostel not long after that - really nice family home, the man showed me where I was staying, my bag was waiting in the room for me, and urged me to go get warmed & freshened up before sorting out payment (so nice!). I felt quite sad that it had taken me so much longer than the "estimated time" to get to the end, I was feeling very sore, especially my shoulders, ankles, and all up and down my legs. I went and asked the hostel owner if he could call the water taxi for me to come get me, he said he'd check on me in the morning & see if I still wanted to do that.

In the morning I was feeling better, but I knew I wouldn't manage 20km, especially after listening to the other backpackers stories about how steep and long it was. I got dropped off at Torea Bay Wharf where there was a nice shelter for 3hrs of sunbathing, journal writing, pondering, singing & photography & snacks before the boat came & collected me (I was very relieved to see him). Back to Picton and off to the hostel to check in and have a rest for the afternoon, before my ferry ride across to Wellington and flight home the next day. It was a great experience, and I was surprised to learn that the rest of the country was experiencing gale force winds and storms, while I was enjoying sunshine and blue skies. But I definately want to go back when I'm fitter and finish the parts that I didn't do. But I would not do the section from Camp Bay to Torea Bay ever again (despite how beautiful it was) once was enough for a lifetime I think.

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