Thursday, 2 January 2014

Days 112-116: Where's Wally?

Day 112. Last night was pretty cool, the aptly-named kiwi hut had two kiwis come a-calling last night, so I spent half an hour at 2 am with my red LED light on spotting  them! This morning I felt better after taking medicine last night, and I had a bigger than usual breakfast. Over Harper's Pass today to Hurunui Hut!

Compared to yesterday, it was an easy wander up the true right of the Taramakau. I think I only had to cross once to look in on Locke Stream Hut.

(I really have to do some geology courses...)

Harper's Pass wasn't all that high, the track up was a bit cut up but otherwise it was smooth sailing!
(Looking back down on the Taramakau from near the Harper's Pass saddle)

 (First view down the Hurunui river valley towards Lake Sumner)

I ran into a section-hiking Frenchman, and then an out-of-breath Kiwi both heading for Locke Stream Hut. I got two quite different perspectives of the trail ahead of me! 
(The cute little Harper shelter)

On the way to Cameron's Hut I passed two Kiwis- the guy was similarly dressed to me, with Aarn Featherlite Freedom pack and Inov8 Roclite shoes... Jinx!
And then at Hurunui No 3 Hut I met Rex and Pip (not a couple!), turns out Rex was in the same Army Corps as me, and Pip knows Toni and John at Kinloch Lodge.... Small world! I got offered a cup of tea and a biscuit as we yarned for a bit , and then I had to get a move on to get to Hurunui Hut.

(Ah, more misty mountains...)

And then on time I had arrived! Along this stretch I had a moment where I just stopped and took everything in, savouring the country around me- smells, sights, sounds, the feeling of light rain and wind on my skin. I was suddenly very  aware that I should savour this moment, and more, before this journey is over. Who knows when I will be able to experience this kind of adventure again?

Day 113. With no kiwi, kaka, keas or people to wake me, I slept soundly. Light drizzle greeted the day, but it was warm enough to walk without a rain jacket. I caught a glimpse of Lake Sumner as I got walking...

It was a fairly uneventful walk, punctuated by a couple of interesting encounters. Firstly, two blokes in normal clothes, one carrying a rifle. Armed perambulators? We chatted briefly, and the armed fella told me a colleague had started the TA, only to get lost in a forest (I'm assuming Raetea). He activates his PLB and was hopeful his workmates wouldn't find out, forgetting he had given his work phone as the emergency point of contact. I laughed but I was thinking hard- who did I put down as my point of contact? The watch keeper, or my Mum? Hmmm.

I then ran into a squad of trampers- a club outing. We had a good chat about the TA, PCT etc, and I got to meet Lightweight Rob. Then it was off to Hope-Kiwi Lodge for lunch.

The meadow was lovely, but managed to soak my gear more effectively than the  Deception River! It was raining harder now, and the fantastic hut convinced me to abandon my plan to walk a further 7km today, heck I'll make it up tomorrow. In the meantime, I enjoyed the luxury of having a free afternoon to dry out, have a nap, read Wilderness magazines, FMC and joy of joys, a NZ dive magazine!

Throughout the afternoon a steady trickle of trampers have been joining me here, I'm only hoping I don't have too many snorers in the bunk room!
One couple shared the sad news that they had found Andy Wyatt's body- I reflected on the news this evening. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

Day 114. Snorers. I should have pitched my hammock outside! So broken sleep, and I was up early today to make up distance from yesterday. A pretty easy walk to Windy Point...

(Anyone know the name of the insect that produces the honeydew? I assume it's an insect).

From Windy Point I opted to walk the main road instead of the trail on the other side of the Boyle, as I wanted to judge how easy it would be to hitchhike if I had to to Hanmer to resupply if my food parcel hadn't arrived at Boyle Outdoor Education Centre. 

I reached Boyle by around 2pm. And the very kind lady there fetched my food parcel (hooray!), gave me a cup of tea and some meths for cooking. While I was there the heavens opened up and it poured.... Two groups of trampers puddled in to collect their cars and we exchanged information on the track. The weather looks to be worsening, especially Wednesday which is when I was hoping to get over Waiau Pass, so I may have to delay and sit out the weather in a hut or under my tarp. Anyway, with rain continuing I splashed my way to Boyle Flats Hut, getting there at 6pm after an hour at the Outdoor Centre. 

I could see smoke rising from the hut, a good sign on a wet day, and then I found an absolutely chocka hut! A number of families staying over, but they nicely made room for me and made me welcome. It was a lively night with lots of stories and discussion about various walks, huts and the like- I may need to change my walk route as a result to head up the Roberts Range overlooking Lake Rotoiti, which sounds awesome if the weather holds (hmmm).

Day 115. Rain. Not lots, but nevertheless, persistent. I said my goodbyes and headed for Anne Hut.

So a bunch of Walkers arrived at Anne Hut after I got there and washed myself and gear- Shelley and Matt, Tom and daughters Nico and Anna, plus a runner! I did a radio check and got a weather update from Arthur's Pass base... Not good! Waiting to see what tomorrow brings. Anyway, I'm not alone on NYE after all!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Day 115. Well, it was a quiet but nice NYE with Shelley, Matt, Tom, Nico and Anna... In the morning I called DOC again on the hut radio, they told me Thursday-Friday the weather was getting worse! Much internal debate ensued. Should I pack it in and walk back out, with the aim of going around the Waiau Pass? Or sit at the forks for another three days for when the weather was 'supposed' to clear? I would then have another three days to walk out and insufficient food to do it. And the weather might go either way. Hmm. The severe weather warning, freezing level dropping and the untimely death of Andy were deciding factors. I would be cautious and catch a ride with Tom and family, aiming to reroute from Hanmer to St Arnaud.

(Anna, Nico and Tom...)

So, backtracking today (aargh) but better safe than sorry I suppose. At least I had good company, singing and tramping games! :-) and it poured, and was definitely getting bitterly cold- I'm glad I will have a fire tonight to dry out clothes! Courtesy of Chef Nico, dinner was a noodle extravaganza. The biggest mistake was opening the tinned chicken, which turned out to be inedible. And to make matters worse, someone disposed of the chicken in the long drop, rendering that almost unusable due to the pong of teriyaki chicken! Toilet humour ensued. Stompy older gents getting up during the night ensured another broken sleep...

Day 116. Ahh, more cold rain... Just what we needed! 

And it was a déjà vous day, returning to Boyle outdoor centre...
(Two very stylish gents... Now you know what the New World baker guy does during the holidays!)

A big thank you to Tom, Nico and Anna for your company and ride to Hanmer! From here it will be a road walk out along the Rainbow access road to St Arnaud... More bad weather on the way, but I will at least be away from the madhouse that this place is during the Christmas holidays!

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