The day started well. Nice track with ups and downs and river crossings but nothing major. It was a chilly morning so I had on my jacket and gloves for quite a while as I was in the bush and the shade as the sun was not over the hill yet.
Anouk had started with me but she was on a mission to get to Breast Hill. I was only aiming for Stody’s hut which was 8- 9 hours away with a huge climb at the end. I didn’t think I would manage more than that.
All was going well until about 2.5 hours along a nice bush track I had a funny feeling that I had passed this point before. The tree across the path looked familiar and now I thought about it, the sun on the wrong side. I had looked at the map app about an hour ago and it indicated that there was a waterfall 300 meters ahead. But I now realised I hadn’t come across it yet. The app now said I was 1.7 km from it and on the other side of it. I had somehow turned around and gone back the way I had come. I was a bit grumpy with myself so sat and looked at the map and could see what I had done. The track nearly went in a circle at one stage and I had gone in a full circle.
Sit, eat, drink, think is the back country rule so I did just that. Except I foud that I had left my bag of snacks back at the last hut so my snack food needed to be rationed. I had 8 squares of chocolate and a half a handful of nuts left. Not enough to last me for another two days.
As I was berating myself Aliss and her mum, Gail, arrived. They had been walking up the river instead of using the track so I jumped in behind them not wanting to have to repeat that 1.7 kms again. The river was cold and we had numerous crossings of the swift Timaru river up to my shorts, and lots of boulder hopping and route finding. I was very close to falling in on numerous occasions and nearly lost my sticks 3 times. I was getting grumpier by the minute.
I definitely would not have done this on my own. It took us an hour and a half to do what I could have done in 25 mins on the track. Again I was grumpy.
Eventually we were back on the track very close to where I did my turn around.
So off I went leaving them behind. Mum was a bit slow and they were going to camp well before Stody’s Hut. I sat for lunch in a nice spot with birds for company feeling better.
The track got a bit worse as it sidled up above the river. The narrow track sloped outwards and was made up of rocks, mud and tree roots. There was many steep drop offs that do not scare me any more but I still walk carefully choosing each step to ensure I stay alive. I had a few slips and slides and kept dropping my my sticks, all signs that I needed food. I rested at the junction to Stody’s Hut, ate a square of chocolate, had a couple of Paracetamols and Ibuprofen tablets then, feeling better I went the wrong way along a very narrow scree path with a treacherous drop off. So again I had go turn around and back track again annoyed with myself. For the first time on the whole Te Araroa I felt exhausted. There seemed to be nothing left of my mind over matter attitude.
Even so I had to keep going as there was nowhere here to camp. The Sign said 1.5 to 2 hours to the hut. Only 2.2 km so very steep. I had read one persons comment on the app that said he did this in 1 hour so I headed off thinking the steep climb may not be so bad after all. Yes it took me a full 2 hours of gut busting hell. The first part was across a live slip with huge boulders and loose rock. I could slip at any time and the result would not have been pretty. I was not happy and wanted to get off there as fast as I could. I kept slipping and sliding. Getting more grumpy and exhausted.
Snack food. 1 piece of chocolate every 20 mins. I got higher and higher away from the valley floor behind me but the top didn’t seem to be getting any closer. i think there was at least 5 false summits!
I finally reached the hut at 5.30 pm. The hut had a reputation for its rat and mice population so I decided to put up my tent in a sunny spot a wee way from the hut as I was not game to sleep with rats on my own.
Then as I unpacked I found my snacks bag hidden way down in my pack. My grumpy mood disappeared immediately.
I made double dinner but had to force feed myself. It seems that the harder the day the less appetite I have.
Soon I was joined by Jake, from Sydney, who had taken a different route up high on the ridges as he was sick of being down in the bottom of valleys following creeks. He was also exhausted and decided to sleep in the hut. We both shared our woes for a bit before turning in for the night. I hung my pack with food bag inside, up in a tree away from my tent. If the rats wanted my food they could bloody well jump for it.