I was offered a lift out to the South side if the Rangitata River with German girls, Lea and Melina. I had found Melina’s charger back at Methven so they were happy to see me again. Their Trail Angel had filled their packs with home cooking and gave us a ride out to the start of the Bush Stream Track. We stopped to take a photo of a paddock full of f sheep, always interesting for the overseas hikers.
I had my new shoes and was happy knowing that they wouldn’t fill with gravel. Melina had new shoes too, Any change is gear is exciting after months of very little change.
This was to be another day of finding your own path following a river and the trail notes said some sections could be a bit tricky. So I was pleased to have some company and someone to follow.
I don’t see the orange marker posts up ahead as well as the young ones and also I can’t focus well on the ground so walking for hours on rocks is hard going for me. Therefore tucking in behind someone with younger/ better eyesight than me is always an advantage. This also makes me walk faster as I tend to doddle on when I am on my own.
We followed the river until the steep banks meant we needed to climb up and over the cliffs to proceed. And, yes, we found the tricky bit and got a bit off track but were able to work out that climbing a waterfall would get us back on track rather than back tracking any further. So we climbed up and after a bit of bush bashing and slippery rocks we were on the track. It took us on a high climb above the river giving us a wonderful view of the river we had walked along. Then a very steep decent back down to the river, followed by another huge climb. I concentrated on keeping the girls in sight and kept telling myself that this was good training for the next day which would see us in the highest point if the trail. The sun was very hot and I sweated more than the average pig but got there eventually.
A Lunch break was very welcome at the first of a series of old musterers huts on this section.
Then we carried on through tussock grass which can be hard to find the track sometimes.
After 9 hours we arrived at Stone Hut which we had to ourselves for the night. Not fancy but I have never been very fussy. Dinner was eaten, food bags hung up and we settled down for the night.
Day 119 over the highest point of Te Araroa
Again I was glad to have the girls to follow today the sign said 3.5 hours to the summit so I was expecting a hard climb. I kept the girls in sight and arrived at the highest point of Te Araroa only 10 minutes after them and in only 2 hours. I was very pleased with myself. This was actually a Pass, rather than a mountain peak which meant it was a fairly gradual climb as opposed to some of the steep climbs we had in previous sections.
Getting to the top is only half of the days work. The trail went down a valley for another 4 hours to the Camp Stream hut. We decided that we had had enough of walking down valleys fill of long grass so opted for the alternative good weather route down the top of the ridge.
This proved to be a good decision. The track was easy to follow and the views fantastic.
Our home for the night was Camp Stream Hut which was built in 1898. It is very quaint with a reputation of having a large colony of mice in residence. There were 6 ÑOBOs there with their tents up when we arrived so we got the pick of the 6 bunks in the hut. The NOBOs have only been going for about a month so are less used to sharing their abode with the mice. I just put in my ear plugs and mask on and try and ignore them. They are only tiny wee things really.
Day 120. To Lake Tekapo.
The day started with a glorious sunset as I made my way to the long drop for my morning ablutions.
I started out on my own ahead of the girls but was soon passed by them because I missed a marker pole and took an old track for 1.6km. It fizzled out and I had to back track through horrible spiky plants. I was a bit grumpy with myself but that’s how it goes. No use complaining when there is no one there to hear it except me. And I don’t like hearing people complain about something that was their own making and cannot be changed. So dig in and harden up and handle it girl!
I had 18 kms to walk to the end of the track and the road, then another 18km of road walk. Lake Tekapo got closer and closer as I walked . So colorful.
Eventually I am off the back country station and onto the road. I didn’t hold out much luck at getting a ride so basically stood in the middle of the road with both thumbs out when a car came along. The lovely young tourist from Iran let me in, then we came across another hiker who I suggested he stop for. So then there was 2 of us smelly hikers and even smellier packs in his nice rental car.
Then another couple if kms there was Rosie and Sam with their thumbs out. I told the driver it would be rude not to pick them up so then there was 4 of us smelly hikers with smelly packs on our knees in his nice rental car. He delivered us right to the centre of town and I am sure he went home with a good story to tell . Possibly he may not ever pick up a hitchhiker again!
There was a good crowd of TA hikers hanging around outside a pub and I was happy to be reunited with my lost Peerag.