Date: 14 January
Trail covered: 18.8km (kms 1912.4 to 1931.2)
Again during the night mice had been making noise. They had been swarming around Violaime’s pack, we think because she had oats soaking beside it. When someone shone a light on them in the middle of the night, they all scattered.
Everyone except me was out of bed at 6am and making noise. I wish I could’ve slept in longer today. But that’s hut life for you.
The view outside this morning was great, but boy was it cold.
I was last to leave again today. A 7:45am start today for my last day in the Richmond Ranges. And it appeared that at first, I was going down here:
Indeed that was correct. And walking along the riverbed too.
I couldn’t help remember the story from yesterday where the two guys got killed when the hut they were in was destroyed in a flood. I took a moment to look behind me and tried to imagine what it would be like to have a wall of water rushing down here.
The next bit was up a bit of a hill, only to see a similar sort of view again.
And yet again, I was walking down there to cross the river. But first, there was a point where you had to climb a “gnarly” cliff.
People had mentioned this cliff on Guthook. It was a bit daunting and definitely the biggest piece of rock I’ve had to climb in the trial so far, but it wasn’t too scary, there were footholds and grips on the left of it.
Soon you approach the river that needs to be crossed.
But at this point, if you turn to the right and walk off-trail a bit (at the bottom of the hill, where there aren’t many trees) you encounter the remains of a hut that used to be here, called Maitland Hut. There’s no sign to it or any indication from the trail that it’s here, I only knew about it thanks to geocaching. I wonder if they moved it because it is close to the river and also had the potential to be washed away in a flood.
After I’d found the geocache I changed into crocs to cross this river. It turned 11am while I was changing back into my shoes so my 11am picture is looking back where I just came from.
Next the trail appeared to go up a very steep and treacherous hill. Surely I don’t have to go up there?
Turns out, yes!
Although you don’t need to scramble up the loose gravel, the arrows actually take you around the side of the hill and you take a slightly less steep way up.
I had a look at a big landslip across the river.
This whole area seems to be a lot of landslips, and I have to walk across a bunch of them. I wouldn’t feel very safe if there was an earthquake right now.
The next bit of trail is steep. I’m not a morning person, and that seems to extend as far as not having a lot of energy to climb big hills in the morning. Yesterday afternoon I was able to do it just fine, but today I’m hurting and going slow. A rest day tomorrow will be great. I’ve already dubbed tomorrow “stuff your face with all sorts of goodies from St Arnaud and don’t feel even the slightest bit guilty about it day”.
There was one more small descent which was a bit hair-raising.
Then along a big tussock field where you can see Red Hills Hut at the end. It looks beautiful but it’s actually very muddy.
Jasper, Karin and Michelle were just finishing up lunch at the hut. It’s a nice hut, recently built in 2009, but surprisingly there is nowhere to hang wet clothes outside nor any picnic table.
From here the other three said that there are two ways of getting to St Arnaud – the “short way” and the “TA way”. The other three are taking the short way as they intend to hitchhike once on the road. I’m of course taking the real TA route.
Whichever way you go though, it looks like it will be easy going.
The other three didn’t stick around long and disappeared down the short track.
It’s supposed to be mountain bike tracks from here into town. It looks like it might be quite steep in places but at least if it’s designed for bikes then I should be able to move quite fast.
While I was filling up my water bottles, a spider raced over (quite quickly, might I add) to introduce himself. He was quite colourful and hairy, and I know how much my Mum hates spiders so you’ll have to click here if you want to see it.
I moved away though, I don’t know anything about spiders so I just assume they’re all poisonous until proven otherwise!
By the time I had food, rested a bit, caught up on blog posts and packed up it was 2pm. I didn’t really feel like hanging around here with nobody else around despite the beautiful weather, and there’s also no phone coverage. So I might as well keep walking. There are no more huts between here and St Arnaud which is 20km away, so I might end up camping somewhere. So I made sure to fill up my water bottles.
Here’s the short way and the official way signposted. Those that want to hitchhike into St Arnaud can take the Red Hills Rd route and get to the main highway quicker.
Those who are following the proper TA route should go towards Tophouse Road! Where it gets steep very fast…
There are three peaks between here and St Arnaud. The first is quite a rough track and I’m surprised that mountain bikes could navigate some of it. No wonder it is marked as an expert track.
Below is the view from the second peak. These trees are really beautiful and there is both phone reception and a geocache here.
If the third peak is as beautiful as this then I’ll be setting up camp there. My legs are really aching and they hurt now going up these surprisingly steep hills, but I have made it my mission to at least get to the top of the third peak because that’s the last hill before St Arnaud.
Here is the view from partway down the second peak. It’s the Wairau River and also State Highway 63 that hikers have to walk down to get into town. This is the first time I’ve seen cars in six and a half days!
Wow, six and a half days? Is that really all? This section takes between 8 and 13 days if you believe the trail notes. And I had nine days worth of food in my pack supposedly… Although once I realised I forgot to buy snacks I started getting through the food faster.
The third peak was not as steep, but it was taller and so it felt like forever getting up there. But as always, one foot in front of the other and I eventually got there.
You reach the intersection of a couple of mountain bike tracks.
As you can see this area is quite open and beautiful. And if you walk towards Beebys Hut for a minute or two, off the trail, there is again great phone reception (if you’re with Spark). So that’s where I decided to set up camp.
The rest of the day tomorrow looks like it’s all downhill on that easy track and then 8km of road walking so that shouldn’t take me long. I’ll be in St Arnaud just in time for breakfast.
I made some couscous and spices because that’s all the dinner I have left. In fact the only food now in my pack is a tiny amount of cereal, a protein bar, milk powder, a bit of peanut butter, and this one lonesome chocolate.
So I’m gonna be hungry when I get into town in the morning. I hope St Arnaud has a decent café, aw heck I hope it has a café at all!
It could be cold up here tonight exposed on the ridge 1300m above sea level… But there’s no wind forecast and hey, that’s why I bought a $700 sleeping bag. Time to test it out…
First though I had to put my little garbage bag at the back of the tent, buried deep inside my other two food bags. After 7 days, it stinks. But not outside, I don’t want it to attract any wildlife.
I was sitting inside the tent when suddenly the walls of the tent went bright red which I figured meant a great sunset. So I raced outside to take a picture.
I was in my t-shirt and within thirty seconds of being outside of the tent I was shivering cold. So I raced back inside the tent and inside my sleeping bag as quickly as possible. No way was I getting out of it again.
Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):