So I start the real Richmond Ranges today. Nigel dropped Anouk and I at the Hacket Picnic area and we were off.
We arrived at Hacket Hut 1.5 hours later to find an American couple had lost their hiking buddy, Wit, the previous day and asked us to look out for him.
The notes said 4 hours to Starvel Hut for 6km, and a 1,600m climb so we knew it was going to be steep. Anouk went ahead and I played leapfrog all day with 4 others on the track. I arrived in 3 hrs 15 minutes feeling very happy with myself. The lost hiking buddy had made it to this hut the previous night so everyone was relieved. There is plenty of time to let your imagination run wild whilst you are puffing up a hill.
Shoes and wet sweaty shirt off, and lunch made. A wrap with salami, cheese and carrot. Scrumptious. After about an hour chilling out in the sun everyone began to leave for the next hut.
Anouk and I were last to leave. Our home for the night was only 2.5 hours away up a really steep and exposed section. We were now really in the mountains.
We saw Mt Taranaki and had amazing views down both sides of the island. We were up high and the view had us both in tears. This is why we do this. Being able to see nothing but nature, mountains, deep valleys, bush and rocks makes me feel both insignificant and important at the same time.
Dinner was cooked and eaten outside with 4 others as the Americans had carried on for another 5 hours to the next hut. Some of these young ones are on very tight timetables and are madder than me.
The night of the mice.
I decided to sleep in the hut that night with 3 others but didn’t get much sleep at all. I dropped off quickly listening to a podcast but was awakened by scratching in my pack that was beside my bed. We had all hung our food bags up on hooks on the ceiling but I had some snacks in a pocket on my pack so thought the mouse was after them. So I chased him away but as soon as I was quiet he came back rusting away. I then remembered the big bag of potato chips on the back of my pack. Yes there was a hole in the corner. I wasn’t sure if the mouse was in the bag or not so I got up and took it outside and put it on a bush. I put the snacks in my food bag and moved my pack away from me. But the rustling continued. I shone my torch at the packs and mice scuttled away numerous times through the night. One even came up on my bed and tried to take my silicon earplug. Note to self..sleep in tent from now on.
Anouk heard all the commotion but the other 2 slept through it all. Next day one of the girls found that the mice had got into her pack and eaten all her snacks. Cheeky buggers.