A Small Taste of Trail Culture

Te Araroa is a young trail still in search of it own identity. Hiker/Trampers often set out to find themselves, but on the TA hikers are not only searching for themselves, but also helping the trail find who it is. There is a lot that makes this trail unique much of which helped this trail stand out. Having to plan your days around the tide is incredibly rare for such a long track. Walking across an estuary at low tide is an experince you’d never get during one of the big three hikes in the states. Creek walking and paddling sections make this trail feel more like adventuring than thru hiking. But the trail also has huge amount of road walking. All of this leads to huge variations in the philosophies of trampers on the TA. Some hikers are here to hike and they take road walking alternates around the paddling sections. Some hikers skip every road walk. We even heard about a guy who was walking the roads, but skipping the forest tracks(Hike your own hike I guess.) This trail much more than the PCT is a “choose your own adventure.” And while the trail is starting to attract a large number of people very few of them are choosing the same adventure that you are. These are the struggles the TA faces as it tries to find who it is as a trail.

For most of this track we have very few and very short encounters with other hikers. Even though we are going the same direction as the majority of the hikers we had never really camped with anyone else and when we did talk to other hikers it never really felt the way chatting with other hikers on the pct felt. But for a couple of days it felt as though we had found trail culture. We stayed behind a motel that lets trampers camp for free with Shell. And then the 3 of us hiked into Huntly where we met a few other hikers at the tramper camp. And we all exchanged stories and we ate lots of food. And for a couple of days it felt normal.

There is a Hut at summit of Mount Pirongia and there were more that 30+ TA trampers there and we only knew 1 of them. We were overwhelmed and quickly retired to tents. On the PCT there was this instant bond between hikers, but somehow that does not quite exist on this trail. The next day we left the summit early and caught up to many of the early risers and hiked with a few of them for a stretch including a woman from Portland who has a triple crown(She has hiked the PCT CDT and the AT). And even though they have chosen a different adventure than we have it felt once again like there was a bond between us. This trail will develop its culture still.

Here are some other random notes:

Ginger Snaps are called Gingernuts here they are also a staple in my diet.

I got a shin splint that was not very pleasant.

Stairs….. so many stairs.

Rotisserie chickens have stuffing on the inside here.

We finally headed into the mountains. I am so excited!

Mud… So much mud.

Christmas decorations are starting to appear, but it feels very strange to have christmas in summer!!!


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