Day 91 Slaty Hut to Little Rintoul Hut.
I left at 7.45 and Anouk just after me. She caught up about an hour down the track and we stayed together all day.
This was one of the high risk sections so I needed to have a witness in the event of me falling off the mountain. And I needed to be able to tell her parents what happened if it was her to fall. It was very rocky, high and exposed. Particularly dangerous in bad weather but it was going to be a very hot 30 degree day.
I was not actually afraid but we were both happier to have eachother around. Anouk helped me on some of the trickiest sections where it was hard to gauge the best place to place my feet. Not for the faint hearted at all! This is the trail notes for the section.
It was probably about 30 degrees up there all day. Very, very hot work and we needed to carry a lot of water which adds to the weight on our backs.
The notes said 4 hours to Old Man Hut turnoff but we did it in 3.5. It was a hot day of climbing up steep ridges and then down the other side then up again just to go down and up again. If we were in most countries there would be a gondola.
We reached the highest peak for the day – Mt Rintoul – 1730 meters above sea level feeling very pleased with ourselves and in awe of the views. This country is magnificent. Amazing views for miles.
I sent off some messages of joy and relief when we reached the summit. We stripped off our sweaty clothes and enjoyed the views and our sense of achievement for quite some time. However the most difficult parts were to come. Going down is trickier than going up. But we managed.
We arrived at Mt Rintoul hut 9 hours later to be cheered in by the others. Everyone was pleased to see we had all made it through one of the most dangerous days of the trail. Probably 40% of the day we could easily have tumbled down the mountain if we put a foot wrong.
Day 91 . To Mid Wairoa Hut. 9 hours
This was a really nice day for me. I walked on my own but played leap frog with a young swiss couple, a kiwi couple, Anouk a Bulgarian and German girl. We all stopped for lunch at the cute little Tarn Hut and gave our arms a good workout chasing off the sandflies. I hung out my sleeping bag and tent to dry as the nights have been very hot and still. The humidity causes condensation to collect in the tent even with the doors open all night, especially when camping near water. But it is a good excuse for a decent lunch break.
A tarn is a mountain lake. There is no river coming in or out of it, it is basically a big puddle high up on a mountain. Unfortunately it is also a breeding ground for sandflies.
Today I had only a short ascent, some time out on the tops then a big long decent. About 1,200 metres over 4km. It was mostly through forest so at least I was in the shade for most of the day.
Yesterday I had not worn my sun hat as I needed all fields of vision at all times because of the difficult terrain. As a result the top of my head got sun burnt. A bit ouchy when I run my fingers through it as my way of brushing my hair.
My innersoles had finally disintegrated so I conned a nice young man into letting me lighten his load by cutting some out if his sleeping mat.
The hut was a tiny 4 bunk that was very hot with 10 or so people in there, especially in my full anti sandfly merino outfit. The bug net was the envy of all the campers.
So I cooked outside then got into the tent as quickly as possible trying desperately not to bring too many in with me. I killed about 50 of the little buggers before eating my dinner.
So here I am in my tent at 6pm at Mid Wairoa Hut. This is the only place to be safe from the millions of sandflies here. Such a shame as it is a pretty spot beside a clear green river with a great swimming hole. The best I could do was a quick wash and change into my anti sandfly outfit.
I have told the overseas people that God made New Zealand then realised it was perfect, just like Heaven. As there couldn’t be a Heaven in earth he decided to add just a tiny wee nuisance to the place. The sandfly. However I don’t think he realised how well the little creatures breed and how annoying their bites are.
That night we had an earthquake that made everyone rather uneasy and the mice were at us again. Some were scuttling around under my tent so I was wacking them with my sandal. They seemed to get the message and went onto other tents. It hadn’t long before the Swiss girl was screeching as two had eaten onto her tent and were knawing away at her food in her pack. Maybe mice are another of God’s little annoying creatures.
There was nothing I could do so I put my eye mask on, ear plugs in and bug net over my head and went to sleep.
Day 92. 23 Jan 2020. Reached the 1,900 km mark. To Hunters Hut
Another long hard, hot day to come. We arrived at hut and decided to have a 2 hour break to keep out of the mid day sun. Martinand Robyn, the Swiss/ Kiwi couple did the same. The young ones had a gone on ahead in the heat of the day..mad!
During the morning the track had us following a river which entailed about 8 decent river crossings, clambering up and down banks and a lot of dodgy sidling. The forest was also alive with wasps. Anouk stepped over a nest hole in the ground right in the middle of the track. The wasps were not impressed and dozens came flying out sounding very angry at the disturbance. I was only 2 steps behind her so took the brunt if their discontent by stinging me about 6 times. We took off along the track and dealt to the stings and I took an anti histamine tablet. Damn things
The river crossings cooled us off a bit and provided lovely fresh cool water to drink, however we couldn’t hang around too long to enjoy it because of the bloody sandflies. grrrrr
We had a 2 hour lunch break, dried tents etc. then headed off for another section described as very challenging. Martin and Robyn joined us so we were 4. Robyn wasn’t keen on doing another hard stretch so Anouk and I did our best to help her along and keep her distracted with out chatter. The day does go faster and easier if there is something else to concentrate on rather than the heat, pain and difficult terrain.
We reached the 1,900 km mark today feeling happy to be alive and in such a beautiful place.
We arrived at Hunters Hut at 8.30 that night. We were all tired and a little grumpy as it was 13 hours since we had set out that morning. There was very little flat space to put up our tents so I opted to take the last bunk bed in the hut. Bugger the creatures, I needed to eat quickly and get to sleep.
The other people at the hut were already in bed when we arrived so we quickly cooked instant noodles and got into bed. A big day over and we all survived without mishap again. Happy if not exhausted.