Day 91. Saint Arnauds – Lakehead Hut. 10km (+20km). Total 1955km.
As always, not much sleep once I am in a town. Too much information from friends and family needs to be processed in my head, all the people I met today plus the food organisation etc occupied my head at night.
It’s raining as we wake up and we have a lazy start at 9am. Lake Rotoiti is covered in clouds so we can’t see much except for white and grey.
The hike along the lake is rather easy and flat but with the rain it’s also slippery and muddy plus we now have very heavy backpacks again with 8 days of food. There are also a few river crossings that are starting to be difficult to manage with dry feet as the water level is raising with the rain. We don’t talk much just endure getting soaking wet in our rain gear and kind of hope to be soon at the first hut. It’s 10km and takes us a bit more than 3h. The three hikers we already met yesterday in Saint Arnauds are still there but preparing to leave the hut. It’s a very big hut compared to the 6 bunks ones of the last stretch. We start drying our stuff while having lunch, hoping for the weather to become better so we can more easily continue to the next hut. As we want to prepare coffee, I cannot get the stove to work. I assume the canister I got from Christian yesterday is not working somehow (a full one in exchange of our used one as a gift). So, either eight days to Boyle without warm food or walk back to St Arnauds. Rather unhappy I put my wet gear back on, pack the canister, stove and money in my small pack and head out again to town. Peggy is staying here and looks after our stuff. I almost run, making the 10km in just 1h50. The sun has come out by the time I reach Saint Arnauds and now I get a beautiful view at least!
At the DOC office I can try out another canister, which is working! So I buy it and then walk to the cafe, arriving at 3.45pm. After all that running I want to offer myself another fish and chips but they only do warm food until 4pm – and today they already stopped! I take a vegetarian pie instead which is very good and use some more Wi-Fi. Then I buy an ice cream as dessert and a sweet for Peggy and now have to walk back again the same trail. I put some music in my ears to make it easier and enjoy the great views and at 6.30pm I arrive finally at the hut. It would have been much easier today without that gas problem, continuing the trail in the sunshine to the next hut as I have again my time constraints in my head (flying out of Auckland on March 1). But at least we have now gas and Peggy is hopefully even better recovered now. Pawel the Polish TA hiker has arrived in the meantime (for some strange reason we didn’t meet each other on the way). We are just 4 people tonight in the hut, having plenty of space to spread out and hopefully even my backpack will be dry tomorrow morning.
Day 92. Lakehead Hut – Upper Travers Hut. 20km. Total 1975km.
The weather isn’t as bad as announced in the morning and as we have a rather short day ahead we start only at 7.45am. It’s a nice walk ever so much further into the valley and gently uphill for the whole day. The views in the beginning are great, as there isn’t any forest yet we can see so much more than usually.
Over the swingbridge and all the way along the river we get back into a forest section. It’s a pretty easy hiking though, we can even chat a lot while we usually hike without talking at all. I have still some problems to adjust to hiking with somebody else – although I couldn’t be happier to have such a good friend with me. On my own I would just decide in the morning to go early (or not) and making long days as I want. Now there’s someone else without all the experience I gained in the last few months. A long day for Peggy is not long day for me and while my body might appreciate the rest (and still complaining about the heavy backpack), I can also feel my longing to always continue further and further, making really long days and distance. It’s just what my body is used to doing and wants now. So I have to learn to accept a different pace – but in exchange enjoy laughing and talking with Peggy. It’s wonderful to be hiking with a such a good friend, share the adventure, the great moments and the misery.
Back to our hike though, we reach John Tait hut earlier than expected and have lunch in the sunshine and even finally our coffee (which we didn’t have yesterday!).
Then another similar hike along the river in the forest, after not even one hour we are at the Travers Falls (leaving our packs up there before climbing down some 80m). The falls are impressive as there’s so much water pouring down!
When we finally get some view, it’s the most amazing so far. A very long waterfall coming down the whole mountain, below it’s partly snow covered rocky summit. Wow! It’s the best and most unusual waterfall I have seen so far on my trail!
Not even an hour later we reach Upper Travers Hut, another big hut where only 2 hikers are settled yet. And what a great setting! It’s a perfect spot, nestled below the summits around us.
Another wash in a river, this time a freezing cold one, I even have to get out in between as my feet hurt to much from being cold. Nevertheless I washed my hair!!! Getting all tough and used to it by now I guess 😉 Pawel arrives pretty early today, at 5.30pm.