Day 117. I had a really nice catchup last night with Matt and Shelley over beer and wine in Hanmer, after last seeing them huddled for warmth in a shelter at the Boyle 'Village' road end! I seemed to be last into bed and first up at the backpackers, which I found amusing after overhearing two dorm mates agreeing to get up 'super early' to hit the road. Last seen curled up under duvets while the rain hammers down on the tin roof of the house. It's going to be a wet one today! I got a ride through Molesworth Station to the cob homestead on Rainbow road, with a view to outflanking the Waiau Pass and getting to St Arnaud. For a road walk, it was pretty!
Anyway, I walked the road until Six Mile Creek, where I was offered a ride across in a 4WD. The rest of the day was uneventful and I got into St Arnaud in good time... Spotting a tipi in someone's backyard that piqued my interest! The weather looks to be bad for the next couple of days, but has proven to be fickle thus far.
Days 118-119. Zero days... I delayed my start as Sunday started off with a really good downpour! Besides, the Alpine Lodge does a buffet BBQ on Sunday (it was awesome, all you can eat for $30).
There was also plenty of free food on offer in the backpackers:
I met a bunch of Section hikers also staying at the Alpine Lodge. Nico from Belgium, Steve from Australia, and Andreas from Wellington. We were assigned the same table for Sunday dinner- Alexandra perhaps wanting to keep the carnivore carnage away from her more civilised guests? All that protein and I was keen for an early night!
Day 120. Said my farewells and we wished each other happy trails. Off to the Richmond Range!
The day started with a 10.5 km road walk, then 8.5 km uphill to the Red Hills Hut, a tidy and new 6 bunker, where I stopped briefly for lunch.
From here it was a pretty walk through (and up) to Porters Creek Hut 12 km further on. I was feeling lethargic and my Achilles heels ached from the road walk.
I ran into David Till from West Australia on the way, we stopped and had a good chat about the TA... He recognised me from my blog photos straight off the bat. Pretty funny, he was saying that he thought it strange there wasn't much bird life, all the while I was observing tuis and bellbirds swoop and dive behind him! I suggested that perhaps our birds aren't as raucous as Aussie birds (keas and kakas aside). Off he went, thinking about a beer in St Arnaud, and I trudged on...
So, the hut is a doozy! Well looked after, and cozy too. I got in at 5pm, and given the state of my sore feet, I decided to stop rather than press on for another 4 hours. It's in a very pretty location!
I'm wondering how the weather will turn out tomorrow- if little rain, I'll try to press on to Mid Wairoa Hut. If lots, perhaps Top wairoa and wait for the river to subside...
Day 121. An overcast day, which quickly became a rainy, squally day! It was a bit of a challenge navigating in open country as I couldn't easily spot the markers and ground sign was limited in most places.
I was at Hunters hut by morning tea, ate an early lunch and continued on as the rain got harder. Had to smile as things got a little difficult!
I came across two German guys, Ollie and Soren who said they had stockpiled firewood at Top Wairoa, which sounded very promising on a wet day! Mt Ellis was interesting (what I could see of it in cloud and mist) as I sidled across a significant and steep scree slope- up or down, it seemed never ending and I wondered at how it would look in fine weather.
I caught a glimpse of the hut finally through the mist and rain...
I was particularly pleased to have a DOC hut to dry out in today. Fire started, clothes drying/being smoked!
I still have a concern about crossing the Wairoa river, the next section has 8 crossings which are apparently tricky. Hopefully levels will drop overnight... I may well walk through to Tarn hut tomorrow which means I will be a 'hut ahead' of my current plan so I have a weather delay buffer. So far the track has been hard work and delivering on its promises- if the weather improves I'm sure I will be in for some amazing views!