Date: 29 January
Trail covered: 14.4km (kms 2070.3 to 2084.7)
Weather: light rain all day
I slept in just my sleeping bag liner for most of the night, because it was so warm. I did put the sleeping bag over me at one point in the night but didn’t zip it up.
I woke up to unexpected rain. Honestly, it looks like this area needs it given how brown it is, and it’s nice to know that the chance of any kind of fire on the track is now very reduced.
The hunter got back to his van at 7:30am. He said that he slept out in the bush because the best times for hunting are just after sunset and just before sunrise. He didn’t even have a tent or anything that I could see.
I had my breakfast in the shelter while I waited out the worst of the rain. There was a little mouse hanging around.
He sometimes came out to look for crumbs. I didn’t chase him away because watching him gave me something to do while I waited for the rain to stop.
Once the rain largely stopped at 9am I continued walking. I had to backtrack a bit to get back to the path. There were some cows here that weren’t here yesterday.
Sure enough they all scattered and then watched from a safe distance. Some even started following.
Back at the junction…
…I got wet from walking down the narrow, overgrown path – much more wet than I did from the little bit of rain that was still coming down.
Fortunately the overgrown path didn’t last long and I ended up back in the trees. It wasn’t long before I saw Chris from yesterday. He was joined by a little robin who was not afraid of us at all.
The robin stared longingly at us. I can’t work out if it wanted to be fed or if it was waiting for us to move so it could find bugs.
Chris said he was having stomach aches and so he kept needing to rest. He mentioned he was considering turning back, partly because of the pain but also because the weather forecast for Monday is supposed to be heavy rain and ideally we need to complete this section before then, because there are several river crossings just before Arthur’s Pass that need good weather. That’s definitely motivation to keep going!
11am came and I was still walking through the trees.
I had three options for huts today. The first was Hope Halfway Shelter, apparently 2hr40 in. The second is Hope Kiwi Lodge which is 4hr30 and third is Hurunui Hut which is something like 10 hours. I would like to make Hurunui Hut but is my pack too heavy? Am I too out of shape after last week?
The red line doesn’t match the trail just before the Halfway Shelter, but at least it matches the path on the topo map so that is reassuring.
I arrived at Hope Halfway Shelter, a very quaint little building with not a lot else other than beds and a place to prepare food. I had some cheese and crackers and continued on.
I had a quick look at the intentions book before leaving, to see where some of the people I know are. Nick and Robert are 10 days ahead of me. Rhydian is 8 days ahead, and Clem and Sabine are 7 days ahead. No sign of Dave and Baxter in the book, though.
The rain started to mess with me after leaving the shelter. It started not long after I started walking again, so I stopped and put my rain jacket on. But in the two minutes it took me to do that, the rain stopped so I took the jacket off again as it was too hot.
But then the rain started again and while it wasn’t heavy, it didn’t stop at all before the next hut. And since I didn’t put the jacket back on, I got pretty wet.
After two hours of walking in the rain, and one more swingbridge…
I arrived at Hope Kiwi Lodge.
It’s a serviced hut with 20 or 23 beds depending on which source you go by. I like it because it’s one of the huts with two separate rooms of beds separate from the main living area.
There was a hunter here who was waiting for the rain to stop before he went out hunting. There was also a group of school-aged kids here, one of whom had a real deep cough and had no hesitation coughing all over everything. I made sure to carry my hand sanitiser at all times while staying here.
I considered having lunch #2 here and then continuing on but the rain showed no signs of letting up and once I changed into dry clothes I definitely didn’t feel like going out in the rain again. So that was my decision made to stay here the night. Since I arrived at 2pm, this will be the longest amount of time I’ve spent in any one hut before!
I spent a bunch of time shooing the two big blowflies that were inside out of the hut. It was a fruitless endeavour though, because even though I managed it, unless everybody commits to keeping the doors of the hut closed they’re just going to come in again!
As the afternoon progressed, four other TA hikers showed up – Timon from Switzerland, Foure from France (the girl from yesterday in the shuttle), Florian from Dunedin and finally Pierre, also from France. The company at the hut was a good mix of people. Timon told me that he had seen Chris at the Halfway Shelter so it sounds like Chris didn’t decide to turn back.
The plan is to get up early tomorrow and try and get a full day of walking in, partly to beat the rain forecast for Monday but also because I’ve had two “practice” days now and so I should be ready and in shape for a full day of walking tomorrow.
In addition I was doing some thinking about my target finish date of February 29. That is 31 days from now and there’s a bit over 900km to go. I’m not entirely sure that’s doable, but I’m going to keep it in the back of my mind that I need to be doing 30km days if I want to hit that date. That might make me continue on some days when I might otherwise stop instead.
Lastly… I realised tonight something sad. It seems that my recent spate of losing things is continuing. Taco Terry, the toy my niece gave me before I started walking and who has been my little buddy the whole trip, seems to have gone missing. I pulled my entire pack apart three times but he is nowhere to be seen. The other things I lost over the last few days were minor and can be replaced easily… but without Taco Terry I feel sad and alone. I guess he decided to stay in Christchurch or Napier somewhere.
Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):