After a nice coffee and checking the weather forecast I was on my way to do the next section. Wanaka was about 6 days walk away.
The track started back about 5 km down the road so I had a good, easy warm up before hitting the ups and downs of the trail. I think this is what my body likes best.
The first part of trail was part of the Alps 2 Ocean so easy going for about half an hour then it branched off and up, up, up through the bush, a 500 meter elevation gain. When I arrived at the edge of the bush line I could see that it was very foggy out on the tops so I sat, ate and checked the trail notes and put on my warm hat, gloves and coat as I was sweaty from the climb and getting cold quickly. I needed to know where I was going to ensure I wouldn’t get lost in the fog. The trail notes indicated that it could be a bit difficult to follow the trail so I prepared myself to concentrate fully.
However, by the time I ventured on the fog had cleared and I had another hot sunny day ahead of me through parched land. ( Thanks again, Garry). The view back to the lake behind me was stunning and was a measure of how high I had climbed that day.
The day went well as I was able to spot the markers ahead, negotiate the deep holes, the marshy ground and manage not to get spiked by the taramea too often. That plant could be lethal if you fell in it.
At about 2 pm I came across a couple taking a photo of an animal. They were up very close to it so I waited for quite a while as I expected it to run off at anytime. But it didn’t so I ventured closer only to see that the creature was not looking well at all. It was young so I tried baaing out for its mother to no avail. I told the 2 french NÒBOs that it looked sick and was a pest and the best thing to do was shoot it. They looked horrified but were pleased to see I was not carrying a gun.
I wasn’t sure what kind of animal it was, thinking either a goat or a deer. A few days later as I was sitting in The Stags Head hotel in Hawea writing this blog, I decided to ask the question of the locals.
I looked around for a hunter type and found a group of blokes, one of whom was in camo gear. Ah ha, I thought, they look like they would know about the creature.so I showed them the photos. Well it turns out one of them was the unofficial Duke of Hawea and expert in the wildlife of the region. I do know how to pick them.
A beer later and I find out that it was in fact a young Chamois which is neither a deer nor a goat so it was understandable that I was confused. A Chamois is a Antelope found in Europe. . Franz Joseph, from Austria, gifted some to New Zealand over a 100 years ago. They are a well sort after hunting trophy in New Zealand and there was a couple up on the wall in the pub. They agreed with me that the best thing to do would have been to put it out of it’s misery.
The NOBOs then explained that they had camped on the banks of the Ahuriri River the previous night and had left their bag of rubbish behind. They had already drawn a map of exactly where to find it and asked me to please pick it up. I was pleased to see how concerned they were about this and agreed. They insisted on giving me $20 to buy a beer or 2 for my trouble.
Anouk arrived about this time and we continued on together, both happy to have the company as the last big river crossing of the trail was coming up.
We were soon on the flat and heading through the meadows to the river. I wonder how anyone could farm in this arid area that is covered in snow during the winter. Anouk was particularly tired this day so we paused briefly to celebrate passing the 2,500 km mark before heading onward with only the end on our minds.
Arriving at the river at 5pm we mostly followed directions of the NOBOs by crossing at the braided section. The first section had us linking up and me not too happy by the time we reached the middle of the section. The water was up to my shorts and was swift. Anouk reasured me that we were okay and it was only a few more steps before it got shallower. I trusted her so we carried on and made it through. Hugs and high 5’s then onto a knee deep easy second crossing.
We made camp being careful not to put up our tents over rabbit burrows as the place was covered in them. Anouk was showing definite signs of exhaustion as she was having problems putting her tent up. The day needed to come to an end quickly.
At the end of long days like this our legs only keep going because our mind dominates our body. Hence the saying “Mind over Matter.” My mind tells my feet that they don’t matter.
So we made a quick dinner and retired to our own homes for the night.