Target departure was 7am. It was closer to 8. Jim came out again to see me off and Brent was in camp early too. Jim walked as far as Lookout Point where the plan was to stop and have a cooked breakfast. Had packed appropriately for it with everything within easy reach in the pack. Instead we found ourselves taking shelter from near horizontal rain. Still, it wasn't that cold despite the strength of the wind.
Breakfast was a couple of OSM bars instead of what I'd planned. Still, the bars were heavier, better to be rid of them early. Still plan on carrying a stock of them, but not nearly as many I currently have. Shouldn't have grabbed as many as I did when Jono and I stopped at the Cookie Time factory on the way out of Christchurch. Still hoping to get an arrangement with them, some form of on going discount or something during the walk.
The weather did not fill me with confidence. Dug out the wet weather gear, bundled up and parted ways with Jim. Crossing the first section of farmland was interesting. Almost blown over twice. Glad for the poles which are quite comfortable to use now. It's handy being quadrapedal. :) I did realise that the markers are definately aimed at people doing the track north to south. There were a couple of spots where the markers disappear or are not visible from the south to north route. It'll be interesting to see what the rest of the track is like.
Once out of the farmland it was clear weather and road walking all the way. It wasn't hard to get into a rhythm either. I was maintaining a steady 5.2kph according to the GPS. More than I expected given this is the start of the walk and I had everything (still too much) on my back. I suspect the poles played a reasonable part in that. Given how sore the feet got I suspect I should have taken things a little easier but the pace I had with the poles was comfortable and didn't feel like I was pushing myself at all. Blisters formed though.
Mike and Katrina have offered crash space in Invercargill and also offered pickup/drop off if needed. I took advantage of that about 14k's from town. The dairy processing plant is the landmark I'll continue from. Given how my feet feel and the little proto blisters I think I'll take a weekend, catch up on net stuff, get my DOC hut pass, sort out some money stuff, post a few things on and hopefully talk to the guys at Back Country Cuisine and see if a sponsorship discount may be a possibility. Despite this being the first official day on the walk, I've spent 5 days on my feet. Not a bad time to take a break.
On the 4th Jan I'll get Katrina (Mike is away at the moment) to drop me back at the dairy processing plant and walk until I'm not quite feeling it as bad as today. Just a day pack though. Get through Invercargill and make good headway to Oreti Beach. Then a final pickup, a final night in Invercargill and back on my own.