Day 89. Hunters Hut – Red Hills Hut. 18km. Total 1928km.
I wake up pretty often during the night. It’s very windy but in the early morning the day promises to be beautiful again. And so we start to hike again. Uphill. Over the red rocks again. Through riverbeds with red stones. Through some mud. Up to a saddle with some views, where we arrive soaking wet from sweating, it’s hot today! The scenery is amazing and so different.
At 11am we arrive at the first hut and already have lunch. Tortillas with Peanut butter. More than usually cause tomorrow we are already in St Arnaud – in just 7.5 days instead of 10, so I have food left to eat now! Bad idea though, my stomach doesn’t support peanut butter anylonger so I am feeling unwell for two hours, stopping behind many trees! That’s it, no more peanut butter for me (even though some is waiting for me in the next 3 resupply parcels, I will have to give it away). The afternoon is anyway endless and extremely hot. We hike uphill, steep down to a creek, cross it, hike up again. Repeat. For the next few hours. I am not happy but at least my body is used to it, it’s so much harder for Peggy! Close to a heatstroke we have to take breaks in the little shadow we can find before continuing.
Eventually I can see the hut in the distance and it’s close to 5pm when we get there. I was looking forward to it, it’s a new hut from 2009. However, the hut is fully occupied already, although no one is there now. We set up our tents outside. As Tim arrives he tells us that there’s a family in the hut, he arrived before them and got one bed though. The family is noisy anyway when they arrive and it’s warm, I don’t mind camping. But Tim was up the summit and has the latest weather forecast, rain to come tonight and for about one week. For sure the wind is picking up and it’s drizzling at night, nothing too bad though.
Day 90. Red Hills Hut – St Arnauds. 17km. Total 1945km.
Last night I didn’t sleep well although it was warm enough and the rain not too bad. But we have anyway only a short hiking day ahead. It’s 6km on a 4wd track, downhill to the highway. Then 11km on the shoulder of the highway to Saint Arnauds, a little Ski-town.
Before 11am we are already there. I booked 2 beds in the dormitory two days ago from one of the summits with signal, however we cannot yet check in. So we go across the street to the gas station / shop / cafe for coffee plus a banana and apple for me! And what a surprise, Christian and Martin are already there! It’s nice to see them again! They have abandoned the trail for good now, Christian wants to go to Christchurch for some volunteer work. His knees are not supporting the hikes anylonger. They are taking a shuttle into Nelson at 12.30pm and just before Malte with his wife Inka show up as well! Too short the time with my hiking friends!
We then check at the DOC office for any important information (we already know about the outbreak of the Noro Virus ahead of us and will be extremely careful, using hand sanitizers and treating all water). The weather forecast is rather bad too, but we count on our luck!
After finally checking in we put our clothes in the washing machine and open the food box! Feels like Christmas but it’s just dehydrated food 😉 My peanut butter is given away to the French girl sharing our dorm. Once we put our clothes in the drier, we go for late lunch, fish and chips. Delicious and a big plate!
Then time for shower, Wi-Fi, relaxing and preparing ourselves mentally for the next stretch and bad weather!