I was first to wake and first to leave the hut. Most hikers had not stirred from their sleep when I set foot outside the hut. The rain yesterday gave way to a cool clear morning. I started hiking in both my down jacket and rain jacket. The temperature inversion had the cold air settling in the valley.
As usual there were many river crossings. The cool morning air and cold mountain water combined to remove all feeling in my feet. My feet dislike being cold almost as much as my fingers.
Many of the river crossings were in fast flowing rocky sections of river. There were few safe areas to cross. The rain yesterday seemed to top up the flow of the river. Either that or this section of trail presents some tricky river crossings. The increased flow of the river was not a good sign for the upcoming large river in the afternoon. More on that later.
Part of the trail went through some deep grassy sections of trail. While taking steps into the grass my right leg fell into a hole. To compensate I used my trekking pole to try and keep balance. I failed. Like a belly flop into a pool I fell. Another sickening crack echoed through the valley. Two broken trekking poles in less than 100km of hiking. I was rather annoyed with myself at this point.Leki carbon fiber trekking poles are not cheap to replace.
After an hour or so of hiking the trail turned into a 4wd track. This made for faster hiking but there were many river crossings. More cold feet. The further I walked down the valley the wider it got.
10am photo below
It was midday when I made it to the end of the valley. Now I faced a very windy 30km walk on a dirt road. Every car that passed covered me with dust despite their best efforts to slow down. The road gave an opportunity to stretch out my legs and make good time.
The Rakaia River is a wide, deep and fast flowing braided river that was not possible to cross. The wide valley has ever changing river channels as the water flows down from the high glacial mountains. Increased rain in recent days meant the only way across the river would be with a packraft.
Just before the impossible river crossing a car stopped and asked if I wanted a lift. After drinking their beer and chatting about hiking I was dropped off at the start of the road that would lead me to the other side of the river. Now came the hard part, a 35km hitch on a road that had almost no traffic. I started walking while checking my phone for signal. I checked my messages when I saw a car coming. My one and only chance for a lift. Turns out it was a local farmer called Eve who just got back from hiking a section of the Te Araroa trail. She also mentioned that I was on the front page of the local Sunday newspaper. Click here to read the article. It basically sums up the last 5 years of my travels. It’s very well written.
It was now quite late when I set off hiking. I still had quite a way to go to get to the next hut, mostly uphill. The trail weaved it’s way uphill through farmland to a stunning pass. This part of New Zealand is usually dryer and devoid of trees.
The wind was gale force by now. Pitching a tent was impossible, just too much wind and absolutely no shelter. I was left with no choice but to keep on hiking to the nearest hut. Unfortunately, I’d be breaking one of my rules, which is, dont arrive at a hut after 8pm. Many hikers are starting to go to sleep at that time. Besides it takes an hour to arrive, get organized, cook dinner and clean up. I just like to be considerate of others. It was 8.30pm when I arrived.
Dylan and Martina were in the hut. I’d hiked with them on several sections and they were yet to go to bed which was lucky because the hut was a small A Frame shelter that only had room for 3 beds. It was solid, warm and wind proof. And there was a lot of wind. At times the whole shelter would shake. Real tent destruction weather