Sunday, December 25, 2011

Two Cool Families who stole my heart!

Ariki Mackey and wife Leah with kids Braxton, charleie and Maia

At Ngunguru the Te Araroa trail poses a challenge. Get a boat ride across the inlet or get around the bay. When I came off the trail into Ngunguru there was a DoC restroom facilities being build and I started chatting with the two workers about their water proofing techniques. I became acquainted with Ari. He took me home where we barbecued and had showers and the next day he delivered me to my start point at Marsden Point, better know as the refinery.

Brothers Jack and Quinn with mother Jane holding Tai and gorgeous Ella behind.

At Kaitaia on my way north to 90 mile beach, I caught a bus to Pukenui and was the only one on this odd little bus besides Jack. Jack introduced me to his mom who quickly got me in the car and took me to their home. They fed me and let me use the computer and we climbed trees and laughed and they put me up for the night. I gave each of the older boys one American dollar for university in the States which they both had their eye on. One dollar is not much but it sure made them happy.

Quinn and one American dollar.
 Special thanks to both families and all the other Kiwis who have contributed to dbBrad having such a great time on the Te Araroa trail.

Very Merry Christmas along the Te Araroa trail

My mom, clever and creative, managed to make my Xmas special this year, even from a different hemisphere! Over the years I've provided her with many challenges far greater than figuring out how to make a Xmas away from home special for her only son.

In New Zealand the burgers are small but the Santas are Super Sized!
Being in New Zealand and somewhere along the Te Araroa, a trail over 3000km long poses issues for Santa and his delivery crew. Additionally, weather, trail closures, side trips and difficult terrain and navigation make knowing where I'll be tomorrow difficult, let alone where I'll be in a few weeks.

Not to mention my 28 pound pack wants to get lighter, not heavier making gifts other than helium unwelcome! But Mom thought about it with enough lead time to send me a very special gift. And like the 'very real mom' she is, she even found a way to sneak in the veggies!!! Peas and corn in New Zealand!!

Te Santa Araroa Reindeer trail in Auckland
So on the register in my room is the food lined up with Santa in the background. It's now the day after Christmas in New Zealand and I haven't eaten my Christmas dinner yet, but I will, as soon as I extract myself from this city and all it's concrete, traffic and distractions and return to the trail. Soon I will be in a remote place again, all alone. Undoubtedly there will be another rainy evening where I can look forward to sitting in my tent, reading a letter from home, and eating a 4 course meal for Christmas!! I can't wait.

The menu. Thanks mom for taking some pre-packaged freeze dried meals
and turning them into a four course formal meal

Merry Christmas to all my loved ones back in the States, from dbBrad, New Zealand, and the Te Ararao trail.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Zealand Christmas Day!

The day before Christmas here on Whidbey. Christmas day in New Zealand.
Have a very merry kiwi Christmas dear Brad!

Love from Ed and Fran

About a Kiwi Christmas. A troupe of unemployed NZ artists banded together to create a show to support themselves and their families. In record time they released a Christmas song with a very distinct kiwi feel and a whole lot of heart. These musicians wrote the song in an hour and in less than a month recorded it. Proceeds from this song will go to the Auckland Mission.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Some great people!

After endless hours of walking and walking and walking the length of 90 million mile beach I was hot, tired, thirsty and really wanted a beer and someone to talk to. This was on day one!

Day two was the same, yet I went twice as far and perhaps it was even hotter. On day three, I got up early and kept a fast pace and had walked over 30km when whallah, my wish was answered. On the beach was a Land Rover stuffed with ice and beer and 4 of the coolest people I've ever met. James and Lisa in foreground and Bob and Elsa back.

I didn't believe them when they told me this little guy from the pound was bait for fishing, but sure enough....
....just kidding, which is exactly what they said after I started running down the beach with him in rescue mode!!
Upon returning the fluff ball, I stayed and hung out with them for a few very enjoyable hours before getting back on my feet and knocking off the last 12km of 90 mile beach which ends at a lovely town called Ahipara. Thank you for your hospitality and kindness when I needed it.

Bob knew the sea and exactly what the fish wanted to eat and where they would be.
This fish he landed in about 10 minutes but after hours of waiting for the tide to be just right.
Interesting enough that the next day, right as I was about to disappear into Herekino forest above Ahipara for 3 days in the bush, a car came around a corner and low and behold, it was James and Lisa!! Awesome.

Unfortunately, I missed taking photos of other great people when my Lumix camera broke. I'll be switching brands and hopefully will be able to avoid missing future pictures.

This car Blows!

Normally that would be an insult akin to sucks, but the opposite! In this case what iu mean is 'this car rocks'!

Russell Harray and his blokart hold a world record for speed and Russell was happy to show me some of his custom modifications before he 'blew past me' on the Te Araroa trail.

Russell Harray and his 'blokart'

Merry X mas to me!

...and merry Christmas to you.  Santa is bringing me new Shoes!!

The Merells I was using which had about 1000km have blown out on the sides (see picture below) and were no longer suitable for trail walking so needed replacing.  For me, Santa and Bivouac are one and the same.

New Zealand is similar to the USA in many ways if not a decade behind, but some of the prices blow me away.  My Garmin GPS which I also purchased from Bivouac, barely cost more than in the states. Yet my MSR Reactor , if you can even find one in New Zealand is over 400 dollars here, about twice as much. Shoes are unbelievably expensive with high end trail shoes costing 300 dollars for the pair. In the states similar shoes would be about $150.

Bivouac, my favorite sporting good store in New Zealand sponsors dbBrad with fantastic savings on gear including these new shoes from Patagonia. Thank you Bivouac and particularly Zak in the Auckland store.

Since all the shoes are expensive and I've worn out Solomons and Merell's recently, I'd try a company with the best green/PC record I know of which is Patagonia. I had a pair of Patagonia shoes last year at home and loved them. I think these shoes have great potential and so far I love them too. Thanks you Santa, Bivouac, Mom and Dad and all who helped get me to New Zealand and hiking the Te Araroa trail.

The Merell shoes did okay. I'm hoping the Patagonia shoes do much better. The soles seem of a higher grade and the way the shoe meets the sole is simpler and confidence inspiring as opposed to the Merrel that's just too complicated and as a result, failing.

In hind sight, The Merell shoes did okay. They supported me and a pack on over 1000km of trail, roughly 600 miles. Unfortunate the shoes are separating as shown in one place, rendering the rest of the shoe fodder. dbBrad thinks too much design for marketing and not enough design for longevity have led to the failure of these Merell shoes.

Church and student housing in Auckland NZ on Christmas 2011.

On my way walking back from purchasing shoes I spied this church and thought I'd substitute it on my blog for the Christmas tree I don't have in my tent!! Merry Christmas to all.

GORE TEX doesn't work in shoes, and this is why--
dbBrad also thinks these manufactures don't understand how GoreTex works. It's simple: Gore Tex is a material treatment that is opaque to water molecules yet transparent to water vapor. Rain stays out but steam is released. In the shoe world feet do get hot and steam, but mostly if you step in water, water will run into your shoe. Making it water proof simple means the water is stuck in your shoe, so what good is the breathablity?


Te Araroa days 20-40

dbBrad's camp until the tide went out for crossing Taiharuru estuary, Te Araroa
Day 20 (18k paddle/3k walk) I kayaked in the open Pacific ocean from Ngungaru to Pataua with Mark of Pacific Coast Kayaks. It was a calm day, the sun was mild and though the water was even a bit too calm, the tour of 19km along the east coast of New Zealand was phenominal. After Mark and the boats were loaded and had departed for home, I hiked another hour until I got stopped by high water and Mangroves. I found and camped at a tiny private Boat Launch just on the north side of the Taiharuru estuary until the tide when out so I could cross.

dbBrad and MSR, like peanut butter and chocolate! I love my Zoid II tent and all the variations it allows me.
Day 21(18k) I crossed the estuary and had my most exciting day yet. On the far side of the estuary are mud flats and mangrooves and a fence. A little off track after finding the easiest way throuth the trees I came to a fence. I was soaking wet and standing in several inches of water looking at the fence when my carbon fibre poles toughed the wire. I've had plenty of shocks doing wiring and welding over the years but never like this. When I figured out what hit me, my right arm was sore and I was about 10 feet from the fence staring at the sky on my back in the mud. Yikes. I have since developed a subtle phobia of bare wire fences! This night I camped at a Radar station from WWII

Just another day with wet feet on the Te Araroa trail!!
dbBrad crossing the Taiharuru estuary.
Day 22 I stayed in Whangeri on Ari's couch. The next day he took me all around the city and over to the Refinery where i would start hiking again. I toured the facilities of New Zealand's one and only Oil Refinery and am convinced by it's propaganda that it's completely safe.

The cutest mailboxes ever, only in New Zealand!
Day 23 (19k) Camped on dunes near Ruakaka. After an unsuccessful stream crossing I ended up walking an extra 10k to get around the mouth of the river.

dbBrad on a brand new DoC (Department of Conervation) trail
along the East coast of NZ on the Te Araroa trail.
Day 24 (9k) I left the dunes and before I'd gone 2k noticed some one else on the beach. Laurence from Holland living in Auckland was thru hiking a small portion of the Te Araroa trail and we hiked a short day ending up in Waipu.

dbBrad and Trig
(sine is opp over hyp, cosine is adj over hyp, tangent is opp over adj)
Day 25 (32k) Long day. Ended up camping off a road in a sheep field. I'd actually taken a wrong turn and decided that it may have been for the best since it was near quitting time and camping options had been looking slim. Some rain but not bad.

dbBrad doesn't want "no lip" on the Te Araroa trail,
but give me more of the green lipped muscles please!
Day 26 and 27 (9k) I hiked along a lovely little beach and ended up at Mangawhai Village around lunch. I actually met a wonderful woman from Germany named Gabi. The weather was again rainy and I ended up staying an extra night with kitchen, hot shower good company and a dry bed. Yippie!

If ever I was to look cute and innocent at my age, this would be the shot!
Day 28 (27k) The beaches along this section of coast just north of Pakiri are georgeos and appear to be a bit fragile. Ever shifting dunes create new landscapes every year but make a tough life for plants. As a result the plants are sparse. Interesting though that nesting birds seem to love these areas and to protect them and the plants, vast areas of the beach were roped off. I was able to find a site for my tent where neither plants nor birds would be affected and had a lovely evening with no rain and blue skies and sunshine in the morning.

My best shot so far, sitting on an old radar station from WWII on a bluff
east of Whangarei NZ on the Te Araroa trail. dbBrad is design build brad!
Day 29 (21k) Hiked to a lovely little town, Matakana. I'ts a ritzy little town with a wonderful theater and the nicest public restrooms I have ever seen in my life. Pretty expensive and no where near by to camp easily and rain again. I ended up sleeping under a lovely awning by the coffee shop. My dreams of ordering a 'flat white' and drinking it in my sleeping bag weren't achived, but i did stay dry for the night.

Old footings from radar station near Whangarei Heads, NZ.
Day 30 (22k) Didn't hike that far but over some wicked terrain. The Dome section ending at the Dome Tea house was very steep. The track descriptions by Te Araroa Trust suggested planning on a 2.5 k/hr average and that's just about what it was. The Tearooms had a porch but I couldn't stay there. I was able to use it to assemble my wet stuff in the morning.

dbBrad following the Te Araroa trail around Whangerei

Day 31 (21k) Though I was up early, it was noon before I left the Tearooms. I talked at leisure with Bill the owner and various customers and then Phil of Give Phil 5. It was fun hanging out all morning. I eventually started hiking and ended up on the edge of suburbia in the Dunn Bush. Camped in style near a stile! An amazing sunset and one of the best land views I'd had yet.

Ari and family put me up for the night and delivered me around Whangarei harbor.
Day 32 (27k) Today brought me to Puhoi at about noon. There is a river section here and I had already made a reservation from the Tearooms for a boat. This was a tidal area with mangroves and doing it at low tide made it easy. It was only a couple of hours and ended at a nice park but no camping. I hiked about 5k further and ended up catching Josh and Nick, two American guys hiking the trail, at a little tiny boat house on a small beach under a bluff lined with houses. Getting pretty close to Auckland at this point.

Day 33 (32k hiked and 20k on bus) Nick and Josh and dbBrad got an early start and kept a nice pace up all day. There was a river we had to cross at low tide and we were a few hours late. I don't know if it was wadeable even at low tide but it was a 30 meter swim for us. The technique we used involved our air mattresses and a modified dog paddle! After an hour to eat and dry out we were off until. Eventually one neighborhood became just like another with all street walking so we jumped on the bus to downtown Auckland. I stayed at Base x again, why I don't know!

A beautiful beach on a gray rainy day, south of Whangerie,
Ulrich beach on Bream bay, NZ
Day 34-38 I was in Auckland. A tough city to exit via foot coupled with the Xmas holidays and travel, closures, and the need for company kept me in Auckland longer that I'd have liked. Finally though, on the 27th, I busted out and was back in the woods.

Just south of Whangerei heads is a point at the north end of Bream Bay.
New Zealands only oil refinery lives here.
Day 39 (8 hike but 40 by other means) put me in Clevedon at the start of the Huana Range. At the beginning are some amazing waterfalls and though they were slightly off track I was glad I visited them. Such a nice little spot. I camped near the bottom that night.

dbbrad and dbLaurence, a section hiker but clearly of 'thru' mentality.
Day 40 (20k) Interesting mountains in the Huana range with three large and beautiful water reservoirs. They're surrounded by native bush and it's a testament to the water quality issues New Zealand faces given the fact that 2 of the 3 reservoirs are not potable. Camped below one of the reservoir's earthen dam this evening and met a great ranger who showed me around the park and gave me some food.

dbig tree with dbrad in dfront
Day 41 (26k) Out of the range on the south side and on McIntyre road I camped at a duck hunting shelter. There are stop banks all along the river for flood control and irrigation and grazing bulls along the dikes this time of the year. The canals and swamps are all engineered save for some native portions here and there. This was one of the native portions. A problem with the waterways believe it or not is Koi. There are giant golden carp in the swamps which have devastated indigenous species and they dig into the edges of the dikes for minerals causing premature erosion along the banks. I didn't believe it until I saw a perfect golden Koi about 30"long. Perhaps I'll start exporting the Koi to the states where a fish like that may be worth $1000!

msr tent is very stealth.
Okay, so even on the Te Araroa trail I love tractors and machinery!




lichen dbBrad!?

El Pacos sure are cute!

dbBrad eating lunch at a play ground, Te Araroa trail, 2011

Not much of a building site but probably pretty cheap!
dbbrad te araroa2011

dbBeach, Bream Bay NZ

My beloved MSR Zoid II in yet another variation. I love this tent.

My mom, Fran, is blogging on my travels on the dbAraroa trail.
She is vicariously hiking with me in her mind and with this little bit of
graffiti I made, she with me. Love you mom, dbBrad on Te Araroa trail.

The nicest restrooms I've ever seen, Matakan NZ

dbBrad on a trail that was a road and is now, due to the rain, a river.
Another day with wet feet on the Te Araroa trail!

Give phil 5 and dbBrad raising money for Heart Disease.

I love my MSR Zoid II tent so much I used a flash to capture this
picture of my tent against a sunset along the Te Araroa trail, 2011
Please, MSR, give dbBrad a job in product design and testing.

And in the morning the valley was full of fog and it wasn't raining. Yipee!
Somewhere along the Te Araroa Trail, 2012. dbBrad, North Island NZ.

dbMangroves in the way of my Kayak trip down the Puhoi, so I climbed them!
dbBrad on the Pohoi river, Te Araroa trail 2011

dbBrad on the Te Araroa trail, 2011

Dirty Harry aka Nick Glatt kicking some ass on the Te Araroa trail.
His set up, on the bench next to him, is the lightest I've seen yet, impressive.

Josh Murphree from Burmingham Alabama hiking with Dirty Harry.

Johnyboy, Dirtyhairy and dbBrad on the Te Araroa trail, 2011.

Dirtyharry and Johnyboy along the beach, Te Arararoa just north of Auckland.
dbBrad, rocks and the Te Araroa trail.

In Auckland's northern suburbs there are some awesome parks and lots of opportunity to access the beach like this one.

Auckland has a mix of nature and urbanism visible everywhere, especially along the coast to coast section of the Te Araroa trail..

dbbrad Te Araroa trail 2011 new Zealand msr product design architect thru hiker brilliant designer college professor conservation resource management environmental friendly low impact development sustainable, teaching, university, education, building officials, world peace, low consumption living, planning for the future, next generation, green, sustainable issues!