Date: 30 January
Trail covered: 30.4km (kms 2084.7 to 2115.1)
Weather: sunny until the evening
Waking up this morning, the weather looked beautiful and sunny. That was quite a surprise given that I got up at 1am to pee and at that time it was still raining. So let’s go!
After a quick cereal breakfast I left the hut with Florian. Timon and Foure had left before us. Florian seems like a cool guy who started at the top of the South Island earlier this month. We have a similar pace which is always nice. He also writes a diary every day, but he writes it with a pen in a notebook. I saw him writing it last night.
The track firstly took us up across a field and then through the bush up a small hill called Kiwi Saddle. There was a brief detour to a lookout which we took to see what we could see.
The track had its fair share of muddy bits. Some of them we could simply go around.
Lake Sumner was poking through the trees a lot of the morning.
And at one point we came out of the forest right beside the lake.
Even though there is a clearly defined trail here (in the photo above on the right), this is actually the wrong way. We were supposed to be on the other side of the fence following the bushline, which meant we had to climb the fence. Luckily it wasn’t electrified.
My 11am picture was back in the forest, next to this big tree which looks like it met an untimely end.
Walking through here we heard a noise and then something fell out of a tree with a big crash. I didn’t see what it was but Florian said he saw a big branch fall out of a tree and crash into the ground. He said it “exploded on impact”. It was a surprise since it wasn’t too windy. Glad my tent wasn’t under it.
Along here was another one of those times that we were following the dotted line on the topo map rather than the red Guthook line. But soon, both paths on the map show that we needed to cross the field.
All the time with the lake on our left side.
The next hut is in view now, despite still being 2km walk away!
At the other end of the field is a swingbridge. The wind had picked up a bit by this point and so the bridge was swaying a bit. Florian said he felt nauseous.
We made it to Hurunui Hut. We were making fairly good time – it took less than four and a half hours to get here when the suggested time was six hours.
I planned to camp somewhere tonight so that my tent could dry out – it was still quite wet from yesterday morning at Windy Point. However since the wind was picking up now, I thought perhaps I should use this lunch break to dry out my stuff in case I don’t end up camping tonight as the wind might be too strong. I think there are quite strong winds forecast for later.
The view from the hut was nice.
I was looking at the topo map and the two hills directly across the river from the hut are Dinner Hill and Isolated Hill. I thought they were great names.
In the intentions book I noticed that Dave and Baxter are only 2 days ahead. That’s good, it means I might catch them soon. Another thing in the book was lots of people complaining about people leaving trash in the hut. I could see why – this hut had alcohol bottles everywhere. But there’s no point writing it in the intentions book. The people who left the rubbish in the hut have already gone.
We continued on after over an hour here. The next section has a natural hot pool and it’s a highlight of the trail. Florian in particular was excited about it.
The trail from here was quite easy.
We did see this unusual arrangement of bones.
And then not long after, this sign. That must mean the hot pool is nearby.
It was a nice and clear little pool, and yes it was extremely hot. There was a guy from Japan who had just got out of the pool when we arrived. He was a northbound hiker.
After just dipping my feet in the hot pool, I really didn’t think I’d be able to get all the way in as I thought it was too hot. Florian got all the way in and then he told me that it’s like getting in a cold pool – it’s a shock at first but you get used to it fast. So I did.
After just a few minutes I was overheating though, so I continued on. Florian was clearly loving the pool and so I left him behind.
The track got a bit harder from this point, well hard compared to the easy track so far today.
And there was a lot of mud. At this section…
I misjudged a step and ended up with one very muddy boot.
The track went in and out of the trees again.
I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t just walk down this nice open field the whole way. But I diligently followed the path like the markers said.
The track got more like a 4WD track as I approached the next hut.
This one has a little research station nearby.
And here is the hut itself – Hurunui No. 3 Hut is its name.
There were quite a lot of people at this hut already. Ben was there – the American guy who tought us the card game Kaboo at Rocks Hut a few weeks ago. There was also Troy and Jordan who I had seen before but didn’t get their names until now. I spent a bit of time chatting with them. Timon and Foure had also arrived, and there were about 5 or 6 others.
Everyone was quite quiet at this hut and it was a nice pleasant place to have lunch #2 but I decided since it was only a bit after 5pm and there was another hut (Camerons Hut) only 5km away, I thought I’d keep going. If I’m going to get to the Bealey Hotel by Sunday (and Bluff by 29 February) I can’t afford to sit around.
I had read that Camerons Hut is not the nicest of huts, and the trail notes describe it as an “emergency shelter”, but how bad could it be? I also read it was only 4 beds. There’s quite a high chance it might be full already. Shame I can’t call ahead and find out!
The track was much the same as before…
Although this time there were two things slowing me down. The first was that I’d packed my stove into my pack in such a way that it was digging into my lower back. I was too lazy to do anything about it so I just put up with it. The second is that the skin around my dead toenail seems to have become infected and it started to hurt. I’m going to have to see what I can do about that at the next hut.
This section of bush was very beautiful.
And right after that was a scary swingbridge. Well I don’t know if this one is a swingbridge or not – it’s one whole order of magnitude scarier than most swingbridges.
I wasn’t too happy about walking across this with nobody else around… but it was either that or cross the river. So cross the tightrope I did.
The hut came into view pretty soon.
But first one more walk through the trees and over a couple of obstacles.
As I approached the hut, I thought I saw two walking poles outside, but they turned out to just be two sticks.
This sure is quaint. I was almost afraid to go in. But the wind was starting to pick up and I felt a few spots of rain, so I did go in.
The words I used were “Jeepers Creepers”.
Nobody else was here. At least there’s only one mention of mice in the intentions book, so they’re not a huge problem, and it was cozy and I had the place to myself. I had a quick dinner and then hung the food out of reach of any mice.
The wind was really howling once I had dinner and it was raining a bit too. I was very glad that I actually made it to the hut in time and that I was inside and not in my tent, although having one other person here for company would have been nice. Actually, if you believe the intentions book here, I’m the first person to actually spend a night in this hut in over a week.
This hut has strange plastic hammocks instead of the mattresses the other huts have. And there’s no water tank so it’s a 5 minute walk down to the river to get water.
I’m glad I pushed on the extra few kms to this hut. I have a good head start tomorrow and I should have plenty of time to get to Bealey Hotel by Sunday afternoon. It sure is cold in here though. The wind comes into the hut under the door and through holes in the wall. I was curled up in my sleeping bag by 8:30.
Lastly the toenail update. If you don’t want to know you can finish here!
Since the lower left part of the toenail was digging into a swelled up and seemingly infected part of my toe, the toenail had to go. I got out my Swiss army knife and used the scissors to hack away at it bit by bit until the only bit of the nail that was left was the small bit connecting the nail to the skin in the lower right corner. Then I got out an antiseptic wipe and cleaned it up a bit.
It was good to be rid of this toenail. I no longer have to gingerly put on my socks each day now. Underneath it looked weird, but there is definitely a new nail growing. If you want to see… click here.
Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):