Worst tramp ever…

So, a couple of days ago I set off on a three day tramp, going through the Hunua Ranges in the Auckland region; part of Te Araroa. I meant to start in Mangatawhiri and walk to Manukau, but things didn’t turn out that way.

I have had the Worst Tramp Ever. It started when the bus to the starting point is late – and then drops me not quite where I thought it would, besides, so I had an extra 5km to walk to Lyons Road – along a busy state highway, no less (no taxis here). So I got to the Hunua track proper about 5pm instead of 3.30. Now it’s only 6km to the campsite, but this is over steep hills on very rough tracks – 4 hours, say. Starting at 3.30 would have got me there by 7pm, with an hour, hour and a half grace before it gets dark. That grace is gone, but I figured if I didn’t get there in time I’d camp by the track and do the extra hour early the next morning.

What I didn’t figure in is that an hour and a half or so in, I got suddenly sick. I knew I was moving more slowly than usual, but then I got vomiting, cramps, extreme dizziness (at one stage I thought it was an actual earthquake, the ground seemed to be moving so much beneath me. Also general hotness and sweating. Stop for a bit, it doesn’t get better. So I put up the tent, and then – oh joy – to all my other woes come hallucinations.

First hallucination was the two trees in front of me – they grew arms and heads like Ents, and waved their arms above their heads, then put those heads together and whispered, and stared at me, pointing their creepy arms. Exactly as if they were saying “Come and see what we’ve found! Isn’t is strange?”

Hallucination two comes after dark, when I thought there’s an animal in my tent, crouching by my ear and growling directly into it. Cue shriek on my part; animal disappears. It happens over and over. Needless to say, not a lot of sleep.

Morning eventually comes, and I’m not entirely with it. (If I were, I would have turned round and gone back to the nearest farmhouse to ask for assistance.) But no – somehow I think it’s a good idea to carry on. Still nauseated and dizzy.

After a while it becomes clear that walk should be over. Rang sister, to ask her to fetch me from campground, in hour or two. She agrees. Two hours later, it’s clear that I’m unlikely to reach campground – at this point I think I’ve done 3 km in 5 hours. Staggering. Texted sister relative location and ask her to call park rangers. She does, and then some.

To cut a long story short, a couple of hours later I’m shivering on the track, suddenly freezing, and wrapped in a survival blanket. My brain has cooled a little and suddenly the hallucinations seem like hallucinations – they seemed normal during the event, and even in the morning not so strange. Along come three of the dozen plus people that had been drafted into saving my arse – including park rangers, cops, a forestry worker, a school teacher, and (my humiliation is complete) a rescue chopper complete with doctor and medic. (“Just be bloody grateful it’s all free” my sister tells me later. I am, but there’s a donation to Westpac Rescue heading its way regardless.)

So after being helped out of the bush I’m more compos mentis, but that doesn’t stop me being poked and stabbed by chopper paramedic and doctor.

Am sent home to recuperate, with strict instructions to get to a hospital if I have another turn. Barely escape hospital trip.Paramedic thought food poisoning (from what? I hadn’t eaten anything strange). Mum (who along with my stepdad left work to come and be frightened out of their wits on my behalf) think sudden virus. Put together, the symptoms to me say heatstroke, but even though I was hot as hell, it could have been fever, as the ambient temperature was warm but not hot.

Do not feel good. Have crawled into bed and am not getting out for days.


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