I was up and away before Anouk was even awake climbing up a track to get me way above our campsite. I could see Anouk’s tent below as the sun came up over the hills behind. It was a pretty sight. After heavy rain the whole area beside the river below can be filled with water. I am so thankful for the amazing weather so far as some years the TA walkers are not so lucky.
I got a bit confused with where to go at this stage and had a btg of a meltdown and went back and forwards for about 40 minutes before finding my way. I did feel better about this when Anouk later told me she had the same issues as me.
I was now in the Otago District with only Southland area to cover before the end of my damn long walk.
This section will be mainly across farmland using a public easement, firstly over Longslip Station then Lake Hawea Station. The first part of this day was a bit yucky. The ground is wet and marshy naturally but add cow shit to the mix and it makes for smelly walking.
After about 1.5 hours I was pleased to arrive at a wee stream that looked relatively clean so I could give my shoes a wash before heading straight up a bank to reach a farm track, which I would follow to Martha Saddle (1,687 metres). However the quick sharp climb brought on my fast heart rate again. So I used the techniques given to me by the Doctor and it worked. Thankfully. I sat for 30 minutes enjoying the views just to make sure all was well before heading off.
Nothing exciting happened as I just weaved my way up , up and up the farm track in the hot sun singing silly songs to myself and promising small breaks at 15 minute intervals. The sun was beating down on me had me sweating profusely. I finally reached the summit (1,687 m) at about 2 pm and had a rest stop to eat my much needed lunch. I wrapped in my sleeping bag as the altitude meant that the air cold even though the sun was still capable of burning me.
I wondered why the track went up so high as it was way past where there was any pasture. The last couple of kilometres were so high in it was just rocky greywacke. No farm animals could live up here.
Then Anouk arrived and I followed her down the other side heading to the Top Timaru Hut. We had a really steep descent down the valley towards the river below starting with the usual scree slopes to walk across. Soon we are both running as the steepness is jarring our knees and it feels better to just go with the pull of gravity. Part way down I do stop to talk to the two young German girls, Melina and Lea who are going up the hill. They have done a flip flop since I last saw them. They had hitched ahead to miss expected bad weather and were now walking this section NOBO.
We were now in the Hawea Conservation Park.
Top Timaru Hit is a very new hut which would deserve 10 stars if it wasn’t for the damn sandflies.
The hut had 6 beds and Aliss and her Mum from USA, and a good looking English guy (NOBO) were already there so there were spares bunks for Anouk and I but we both ended up putting up our tents as it was very hot inside the hut. One window has a screen but there was no airflow at all. No one wanted to have the door open as this would just result in a hut full of sandflies.
Anouk had been corresponding with the English guy for some time and was very pleased to finally meet up with him.
Another couple of people arrived after I had already snuggled in for the night…probably about 8 pm. It had been a 24 km day with a huge climb in the sun and had taken a total of 10 hours. I was happy to again have put my mind and body to the test both passing with flying colours.