I woke up on the final day of the Queen Charlotte Track with disappointment and a sore body. While I wasn’t in any abject pain from the previous day’s slog, my muscles were still sore and it knew it had another hard day of 21 kilometers of hiking ahead of me. The disappointment came from the fact that it was very cloudy and drizzly. It reminded me more of a Washington State summer, rather than the sunny, New Zealand summer I expected. I wasn’t particularly thrilled at the prospect of walking eight hours in the rain. But I was here to do the entire track, so I put on my rain coat and steeled myself.
As per usual, the first hour of the walk was a long, hard, steep climb up a muddy, rocky track. This was particularly exacerbated by the rain. My poor calves woke up grumpy again at the rude awakening of the supremely steep incline. After about an hour, the trail leveled off, but because the clouds were so low, I couldn’t see the sound below.
The track got much easier, and the path became less steep and shortly after that, the rain stopped and the weather cleared. 90 minutes later, I hit the Te Mahia Saddle, which both surprised and relieved me.
My tramping book and the Department of Conservation signs said it was a four hour walk from Torea Saddle to Te Mahia Saddle, and another four hours to Anakiwa. I certainly wasn’t walking fast at all, so I think the track was altered a bit to make it easier. I was relieved, because the track was predicted to be eight hours long. I started the track at 0800, and I had to meet my boat back to Picton at 1600- exactly eight hours later. It was nice not to have to worry about making my ride, and not have to run, and still able to enjoy lunch with a scenic view.
The track got substantially easier after Te Mahia Saddle. Most of the path was wide, well benched, with gentle ascents and descents. The track also got more picturesque, because the weather cleared. The trail also go more crowded, and I think I saw more people on this part of the trail than I did in the previous three days of hiking. I ran into so many day walkers and mountain bikers, which was a change from the previous days’ walks where I practically had the track to myself.
I was ever so glad to see the sign indicating I arrived in Anakiwa, and I was done. It took me four days to walk an ,at times, strenuous 71 kilometer track. There were times I wondered why the hell I chose to do this, but for the most part, I was very glad I did this walk. The walking was good, and the scenery lovely. I was grateful to have hotels to stay in at night and my pack transported for me. Now I could rest (for a bit anyway, since I had my final tramp planned for a week and a half later). My body was relieved.