After our rest days in Christchurch enjoying the company of friends and family, Anouk and I were off again to Boyle on the Lewis Pass. After a last salad at Tank we caught a bus to the outskirts of town then put our thumbs out. Within minutes we had our first ride of about 70 km. A short break and our second ride dropped us at the door of Boyle river outdoor education center where we spent the night with a couple of NOBOs. (North Bounder as opposed to me who is a SOBO. South Bounder.)
Day 106 to Hope Kiwi Lodge. 26km in 7 hours.
We started the day with a 10km roadwalk in a little drizzle. Then we were off on a nice track to Hope Kiwi Lodge. The sun was out and we were both so happy to be back on trail. The lodge was a bit better than the huts we were used to. Two separate bunk rooms and a lot of space.
I was a bit disappointed to see tea bags left in the sink and 3 piles of toilet paper within a metre of the front door. I collected it all up to carry out and made my feelings known to those left in the hut. They probably think I am a grumpy old lady but I don’t care.
Day 107. 6 Feb. 23 km 10 hours. I got a little lost. To Hirunui Hut No 3
I knew this would be a longish day as we had decided to do a 2 day in one stint while all was going well.. Anouk found a nice young Aussie to walk with so I was left behind walking in my own space. At the end of the day I don’t know what I have been thinking about so I hope my mind is resting while my feet are moving. The views were lovely over Lake Sumner and through moss covered bush.
I spied the Hurunui Hut, where I would stop for lunch, just across the river and felt ready to stop and rest my feet. I crossed a swing bridge and headed towards the hut. But the track disappeared. Shit!. Back to the bridge, look at the map and see that the track is up higher. So I go up another higher track that was a bit dodgy. Then it disappeared too. Bugger! I was getting tired and grumpy.
The app said I was 37 metres from the track but it was higher up. Back to the bridge and up higher and still no proper track to follow.
F@#K. REALLY GRUMPY NOW ! I should have sat and eaten but went back again to the bridge and saw an orange triangle pointing in the opposite direction to the hut. So up and over the top in the bush I went, really pissed off with myself for getting it wrong.
When I arrived at the Hurunui hut Anouk was glad to see me as she was just heading out to find me. Quite a few others had made the same mistake as me so that cheered me up slightly. Lunch fixed me properly.
I carried on to the Hurunui no3 Hut. I was last to arrive but Anouk had saved me a bottom bunk. She is a gem. Most of the hikers now are ones who started at the top of the South Island. We felt a bit like the outsiders .
Day 108. 25km 11 hours. To Kiwi Hut.
Today was a long day but a fun day. We crossed our first 3 wire bridge. 2 wires to hold and one for your feet. It was fun. It wouldn’t be fun if you fell.
WE followed the Harper Pass Track all day doing many river crossings.
Our feet were wet all day as even when we were not in rivers we waded across marshy areas that is used for livestock grazing. So the mud was a bit smelly making us pleased to go through the clear clean rivers.
We passed the old Cameron Hut which could be used if you got stuck between rising rivers. These century old huts are charming and I love to investigate them, however their old world charm does not always translate into a nice place to stay.
There were many small streams and waterfalls pouring into the main river that we had to negotiate around, through and over. It was a really fun day.
The best day. Up the Deception River for 11.5 hours. Day 109. 8 Feb.
This has to be my best day on the Te Araroa so far. We were on the go for 11.5 hours with wet feet all day but it was good.
Leaving Kiwi Hut we were in good spirits as we followed the wide braided river down towards the highway. We met a nice DOC man who was clearing possum traps and he showed us the best way to cross a river that took a bit of time off our day. Then we had a short walk along the highway until we reached the Morrison Footbridge.
The rest of the gang were all eating lunch and going through the decision making process of whether to carry on or not. It was drizzling and the valley we went heading up looked a bit grey. There had been no reception for days so everyone’s’ weather reports were old. However we had talked to the DOC man who said the drizzle wouldn’t last and we had at least 5 days of good weather ahead of us. We shared this information so most decided to carry on up to Goats Pass.
So we had big lunch each and took off. Wet feet, river crossings, lots of rocks to climb over, slips to negotiate …all fun stuff.
The last competitors in the Coast to Coast to Coast race had been through earlier in the day so the markers had all been renewed making it relatively easy to pick the trail. I have no idea how anyone could run the trail as it was difficult walking it. At times we were climbing up and over huge boulders in or alongside raging water. The track was washed out in many places so we precariously took our lives into our hands and feet over and over. We spent the day clinging to the edges of rocks with the thundering noise of the water filling our ears. It was very loud.
Anouk and I linked up to cross the Deception River at least 10 times as we were not taking any risks. We did see some people cross on singly or just holding hands which we thought was quite risky. But everyone made it through the day.
A group of about 6 stopped and camped for the night at about 4pm and 2 guys carried on to the Goat Pass Hut, another 2 hours ahead.
Anouk and I finally arrived at the Upper Deception Hut at about 7.15 pm. Nearly a 12 hour day. Thankfully a couple of guys came out to help us decide on where to cross the river to the hut as it was deep and swift and I was not really happy about attempting to cross it. But we made it .
We had a fun hour or so before crashing in to bed. We lit a fire for the first time on the trail and I enjoyed snuggling into my sleeping bag for only the 3rd time on the trail. We were up high and it is getting colder by the day, especially out of the sun.
One of my toenails finally came off to the disgust of my companions. I thought this kind of thing was part and parcel of a thru hike.
Over Goat Pass and on to Arthur’s Pass for the night.
We all slept late and then headed up following the Deception river to where it started as a small stream. We were climbing hand over hand up big boulders and crossing the fast moving water many times. The climb got steeper and the noise overwhelming yet we were both enjoying the day. Early on we were in the shade and the water was very cold so our feet were numb. There was a lot of places where we needed to help each other and we were a good team.
Eventually the track got steeper and we were then climbing a waterfall, unfortunately too steep and treacherous to stop and take photos.
But eventually the sun came over the mountains and warmed our spirits. The waterfall we had been climbing up all morning became smaller and smaller and at last, quieter. Then there was near silence and the Goat Pass Hut became visible in the distance.
We arrived 2 hours later at the Goat Pass Hut and took off our shoes and warmed our feet in the verandah while cooking up hot soup to eat with crackers and salami. There can’t be anything better than this.
There was 6 rolls of toilet paper at the hut which gave it a 10 star rating from me. They would have been left over from the Coast To Coast race the day before and not a usual addition to the hut.
Then it was downhill mostly all the way out to the Arthur’s Pass road. Goat Pass itself is very marshy so there is a long stretch of board walk across it. I hadn’t seen such luxury for a long time.
Anouk and I were planning on getting a proper room at the Bealey Hotel and having one of their famous pies for dinner but when we arrived at about 5pm the inn was full. A cider and a bag of chips helped us decide to stay in Arthur’s Pass about 20 km up the road. One resort we rang had a room for $500 and I said I would need a man thrown in for that price. Another was an Eeco lodge which means no electricity, a compost toilet and no WiFi. That is just like a DOC hut so I wasn’t paying $125 for that.
So i\I have had 2 nights now at The Sanctuary for $30 a night. It is a higgly piggly place, lots of bits of sheds etc. coupled together and run by Bill. It is a sanctuary for us TA hikers. I was given a proper towel and a hot water bottle. 25 stars to this place.
Dinner at the local pub and a day of chores and I am now ready for the next 3 to 4 day stretch to Methven. Anouk didn’t take a rest day and headed off this morning so I will be on my own again. There will be at least 10 on the track tomorrow so I will not be the only one out there.