Sky TV weather the night before seemed to say that we were in for a bit of a shitty day so we dry-bagged our gear when we packed.
It was a scorcher.
David had dropped us at the point he'd picked us up from the day before just after eight. We wandered through a farm and some very long grass. My legs came up in welts from the pollen and Whiona's shorts got covered in nectar from the giant purple clover. The trail was marked, but the path through was difficult because of the growth.
Up and over a small hill and we were soon into well manicured sheep grazing country. At one of the many styles we crossed we found one of Nathan Denmark's maps. The one we gave Graeme a couple of days back. We were on his trail.
It was soon time for a quick sit down, a drink and some anti-histamine.
Up on the brow of the next hill we saw the first sheep. The first thousand or two sheep. Then from behind us roared a large quad bike. Can a bike have four wheels and a steering wheel? It had four dogs in a cage on the back and an urgent farm hand behind the wheel.
"Get in! There's a mob of sheep coming through on a weening muster. I'll drop you at the corner."
"But..." my TeA brain stammered...
But it was too late. A minute or two later we were dropped off. We'll have to come back and repeat that 200 metres some other time.
We walked past the mob. It was hot. The road was steep. Prime Angus beef (hi Adele and the crew) watched unimpressed as we shuffled in then out of view.
Mount Linton was a bit of a climb. At the top we stopped for a breather. We'd seen a few sheep ahead as we'd made our way up there but weren't prepared for what happened next.
Another guy on a quad bike roared up.
There was another herd on the way. Could we sit in the other paddock?
It took about three quarters of an hour for them all to pass.
I felt like a tourist as I took a few photos and cursed that I'd left the really heavy telephoto lens at home.
We vaguely tried to engage the guy on the horse in some conversation, but he had a job to do. A pretty stressful one at that. A few hundred mums and their worried kids to wrangle.
The break was good but the sun was really starting to take it's toll. There were more big hills, more steep drops. Our feet were already sore and we had a wee way to go.
Then we met Daniel Schmidt. Another German South Island Sobo. He'd started in November like Markus but it seemed they hadn't met. Big world.
He had however met our "old" mate Graeme. Only ten minutes earlier.
At just about the day's highest point we stopped for lunch amongst dandylions under the shade of a big old Griselina.
I fell asleep. Whiona checked the Garmin.
I awoke to a helicopter spaying scrub nearby. Onward and downward. The hill down to Telford Burn was incredibly steep. Aaha...so that was why Daniel looked so buggered. He'd had to walk up it.
The river was a relief. Over a swing bridge and on to the best earworm ever written.
I was saving my batteries for the blog. (How generous), but Whiona had her buds in.
As she walked, one of our favorite songs trailed behind.
Big Rock Candy Mountain. The Takitimus stood over us as we trudged along.
It kept my brain company but didn't lift my mood. I was starting to get dehydrated and my feet...yes my feet again...we're killing me.
We were both over today actually. At a ford I chose to take my boots off so I could keep my toes dry. Whiona ploughed on through.
She left me as I fussed my way across the stream.
We meet again at the Telford Burn campsite half an hour later. Graeme and a couple of billion sand flies are there too.
I'd like to say we sat around a camp fire and chatted into the night. But we sat around a gas stove and chatted till six.
Graeme had had a tough day too. He was starting to feel pretty drained. He'd been on the road a couple of weeks longer than us and was starting to get a bit ground down.
We had a solution. PROTEIN POWDER.
We'd stuck some in the box we'd sent to Ohai. It's kind of awful, but I lose heaps of weight doing this (walking) and Whiona thought it might help.
Graeme was rightly skeptical. But cautiously slugged a couple of cups full.
The sandflies were winning though and we soon retired beaten to our tents.
It was going to be a long night. As they battered at the netting it sounded like rain. A toilet run was like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
You know the one. As the winged psychopaths batter at the window some idiot tries to make a run for it. It ends in tears and blood.