Breakfast was equally good, and a fire was crackling to keep the morning chill at bay. I keep forgetting it's the festive season, the Christmas tree in the dining area reminded me!
It was tough, but I got walking... It was brisk out, but a fast pace soon warmed me up. The Arborium was pretty neat, with all kinds of conifers planted/planned by a previous superintendent of the power station. Then I was looking down on the pipes and station itself.
It was a nice day for a ramble, actually, I almost forgot to navigate and walked past a stile while wandering towards the lake!
(I assume musterer's quarters)
I got to the other end of Lake Coleridge, but didn't find the campsite, so I pushed on up the Harper River and set up my hammock...
Day 107. Another early start, wandering up the river... The plan was for lunch at Hamilton Hut, and then push through to Lagoon Saddle... If I had enough time, then nip down to Bealey Hut!
I was again lucky with the weather this morning.
A hunter stopped for a brief chat, his unlucky victim (a deer) flopped limply on the roof rack of his Landcruiser. We both agreed it was nice to have this valley virtually to ourselves during this holiday season!
I got to Hamilton Hut bang on time for lunch.
I had the place to myself, aside from sandflies. The weather, meanwhile, looked to be changing. I ran into Sebastian soon after, he's the German I ran into with Chris as he was heading off to do the Tararuas... So now he's doing the South Island!
Lagoon Saddle was a pretty easy climb up, so I went for Bealey Hut for the night. Fantastic views on the other side!
I got in to Bealey and looked like I would have it to myself... And the rain started. I was in bed early, only to be woken by two tall fellas and a wee girl who had come in from the car park in the dark. It didn't take much for me to fall asleep again though!
Day 108. Still raining. Chatted with the guys who came in last night, two brothers from Australia (Andre and his daughter, forgotten his brother's name!). They had an interesting perspective on tramping here, in particular the cost to do the Great Walks (too pricey for locals, but also to restrictive on walkers generally). Anyway, I had a wee road walk to Arthur's Pass today with a view to having a rest day on Christmas Day tomorrow. It started to rain in earnest as I got going.
There isn't a whole lot of road verge the closer you get to Arthur's Pass Village, so I took my time. Greyneys Shelter looks like a great spot, and a one-legged kea agreed...
By midday I was safely in the village, had a chat about rivers and the weather forecast at the DOC visitor centre- the staff there were really helpful and knowledgable... I also spotted dehyd mince beef and beef jerky there... Bought loads! Then a jaunt up the road to find the Mountain House YHA hostel. I met Bob behind the counter, who came across as a bit gruff at first but clearly had a keen sense of humour. He had put me into one of the houses up the road, which have their own kitchen, lounge etc, to share with a nice quiet group (suited me better than the crowd of German lads who had rocked in!). When I tried to pay, he told me 'your money is no good here' and refused to let me pay! On further questioning it turns out that the lovely Hilde with help from her Boss Toni from Kinloch lodge had known where I was staying and had called ahead... I have no idea what was said, but the end result was free lodgings, and a beautiful room! Many thanks to Bob, Hilde and Toni for the lovely Christmas present! Bob stressed to me that there would be no organised Christmas lunch etc, so it was up to me to entertain myself...when I said 'boo', he told me the boss of the Mountain House was a miserable old bastard. Of course later that day I figured out the boss was Bob! Told you he had a good sense of humour. I got some admin done, including a fairly limited food shop at the general store, then settled in for the evening in the company of my housemates with a bottle of champagne and Stone's green ginger wine. Cheers!
Day 109. Christmas Day. A nice relaxing day, lots of food to snack on throughout the day, and with all the stores closed, it was a good excuse to walk a local track and then retire for a snooze and read. Caught up with family on the phone, and was pleasantly surprised by a phone call from my darling daughter!
I had a really nice day relaxing, and then a shared dinner with 'the house'. Maybe a bit too much wine, but what the heck, It felt good to be with company on Christmas. Merry Christmas to one and all!
Day 110. A bit of a late start to walking up the Minga River, I think I got going around 11am? Anyway, the river was low and the gradient pretty easy all the way.
Goat Pass wasn't a hard walk up to, so despite the late start I was at the hut by 3pm. Deception Hut is only another hour away, but I won't walk down to it, I will stick with Goat Pass Hut tonight in the hope of spotting a kiwi tonight! Plus, it has a radio so I might ask for a weather update in the morning...
Day 111. Well, the kiwis were out and calling last night, I got up three times but they didn't come near the hut last night. A racket on the roof this morning had me thinking possums were fighting, turned out to be a solitary kea playin with the DOC radio antenna. It's been a tough day physically, with loads of river crossings, boulder hopping and the occasional scramble too! I ran into alot of runners, as well as a Southbound TA hiker- Laurent. He saw me, grinned and said 'Dude! I was wondering when I was going to run into you!' He's been following my blog, and It was great to get feedback, as well as kinda strange to be known out there!
(Beginning the day with a bath, courtesy of the scamble down to the river)
I don't know what happened today, but I'm feeling a bit poorly, as well as tired and lacking energy. Anyway, that meant slower times, so after just over 30km I had spent the better part of 12 hours' walking. And I'm knackered! Oh, almost forgot- I had another run in with a falcon! My trusty magic sticks kept it away from my scalp.
Nav-wise, I had some difficulty with the Taramakau river... Following what I thought was the trail I soon found myself at one of the major braids earlier than expected. That, or gorse-bashing. I splashed into the river, then thought 'what the hell, may as well cross over', which I did. But this meant meandering back and forward over the last braid to try to keep my navigation points of reference in sight.
...or this one.
At least there are plenty of trees to hammock camp from if need be!
Aha- found my home for tonight!
And this tired trail monkey is going to bed. G'night!