Date: 9 March
Trail covered: 32.4km (kms 2281.4 to 2313.8)
I managed to sleep alright last night, despite the warmth in the hut from the fire. I had the sleeping bag unzipped and so it wasn’t too hot.
Today since Anka and I wanted to start walking early, we were packing up and eating breakfast by candlelight, which was something different. I nearly put my sleeping bag into the candle while was packing it away. I’m very glad that the flame from the candle didn’t actually touch the sleeping bag.
Before we left, we knew that the notes said that there is no water source after Manuka Hut for 17km, so we were sure to take enough water with us. Today was going to potentially be a hot day. It was also supposed to be almost completely flat, which would help us a lot since it is 32.5km to where we would get picked up by Wayne of Alps 2 Ocean shuttles at 5pm.
Anka left first at 7:15am. She wanted to find phone coverage which apparently wasn’t too far on. She needed to call around and find out where her missing tent is.
I wasn’t quite ready so I didn’t leave until 7:30am. Chris left some time after me.
After less than 3km though arose this not totally insignificant hill.
This is where the phone coverage was. I saw Anka on the phone when I got up there. Sadly it seems she wasn’t able to work out where her tent was – none of the people at the places she thinks she left it have seen it. That sucks for her.
Lake Emily came into view soon.
And the sun started to appear on the mountains.
Lake Emily is a beautiful lake and apparently a lot of people camp here, although I have a sneaking suspicion it’s on private property as there are signs around.
But am I right in saying there are lots of birds on it? Let’s use the 50x zoom and find out.
This is the first house I’ve seen since restarting the trail. It seems pretty remote out here and so I bet they have a long way to travel to get supplies.
Of course where there’s a house, there’s a road. We were in for 5km of road walking.
This place is called Maori Lakes. I’m not entirely sure why as I didn’t walk down to look at the info board at the edge of the lake. I do know though that there is a geocache here, as I found it.
Anka had been walking with me since the phone reception and we were talking about geocaching. She told me about something called “wine caching” organised by wineries in Germany. It sounded intriguing but I didn’t find out that much about it and all the websites about it are in German.
There was another geocache on the bridge one kilometer on that crossed the Ashburton River. Anka left me alone at this point because I was taking too long to find it. It was a good place to have some lunch before continuing on.
While I was here I pushed the other lens out of my broken sunglasses to make them match. Maybe I’ll start a trend.
Since I stopped for quite a while finding the geocache and having food, Chris caught up. Here’s my 11am picture:
That’s Chris walking along what was again fairly unchanging landscape for the first half of the day. He has a solar charger hanging off his pack to charge his phone, and he also has a knee brace because a week ago he was “rock-hopping” across a river and slipped and hurt his knee. We all know rock hopping across a river is a bad idea but we all do it because it keeps our boots dry.
I felt like I was getting blisters with the amount of time I was spending in wet shoes and socks. I could feel the friction on the back of my feet and on some toes, so I stopped by this pond and put plasters on them the best I could, and changed into new socks.
There was yet another geocache here.
I had stopped here for about 40 minutes and little did I realise that Anka had stopped just 100 metres on. I didn’t know at the time that there was a really great view of Lake Clearwater and some of the nearby mountains just a bit further up. Of course when I tried to take pictures of the view they didn’t do it justice.
The next part of the walk was a long walk past Lake Clearwater. It was 11km from here to the pickup point and my legs did start to get a bit sore. Not the kind of sore that they were when I injured myself last month, just “my legs haven’t walked this far in a long time” sore. The sun had been beating down on us all day but at least there was the right amount of wind so that it didn’t feel hot but wasn’t too hard to walk. I did start to feel a bit sunburnt though.
It wasn’t long before the Rangitata River came into view for the first time.
There was still a bit more walking to do. Eventually we came to the Potts River. Once you’re here, it’s not much further walking down the side of the riverbed to the pickup point which is at the car park beside the bridge you might be able to see at the end of the river.
Anka and I gave each other a high five once finally arriving at the car park. The car park is not a particularly exciting place to finish the trail but there are great views across the river to where we’ll be restarting the trail tomorrow.
Lord of the rings fans may recognise this mountain here as Edoras, otherwise known as Mount Sunday. I have no idea if that’s right or not, but that’s what Anka said!
Wayne turned up at 4:30pm instead of at 5, and since Anka and I were the only two booked on the shuttle it meant we could leave early.
While we were talking, Wayne said I sounded Australian. Interesting, I haven’t been told that before! But then I haven’t been this far South before, so maybe people down here expect a different accent, I don’t know.
As we were driving away Wayne saw someone running on the trail in the distance. Since we had technically left early, Wayne drove back to the car park and waited for them. It turned out to be Gito and Hannah. They made it to the pickup spot at 4:51pm – 9 minutes to spare.
Anka and I were surprised, we thought they were ahead of us. But it turns out they’d stayed at Double Hut because all the rain and cold meant they didn’t want to go any further yesterday. They knew that Anka and I had booked the shuttle for 5pm and so they figured they could just turn up then and get on. Talking about cutting it close!
Gito said that in Double Hut he slept in the same bed as Sir Edmund Hillary did in 1951 (if you believe the hut graffiti). I thought that was pretty cool.
While we were being driven, Wayne said that Lake Clearwater Village is “off the grid” – they aren’t connected to the power or water supplies. People there have solar and gas and rainwater tanks. Apparently some guy built a house by the lake to go fishing and suddenly all these other people decided to join him. I wish I got a photo of the village as we drove past, it was near and colourful but I was sitting on the wrong side of the shuttle.
We all got driven to Geraldine. We checked into Rawhiti Backpackers at about 6:30pm which seemed like a nice enough place but since I’m leaving again at 8:15am tomorrow morning it was all rush rush rush to get resupply done before the shops closed, get dinner and shower. The backpackers offer free laundry apparently which is really great but there just wasn’t time.
Anka said she decided not to continue walking tomorrow and instead decided to have a rest day, as she has a sore throat. Gito and Hannah are also resting so I will be catching the shuttle to the trailhead tomorrow alone as far as I’m aware. We didn’t see Chris but we know that he managed to hitchhike into Geraldine, so he might be continuing tomorrow too.
Once at the backpackers my sunburn became obvious. My face is burnt and my legs too, not only at the top of the legs where the new shorter shorts don’t cover, but also all over. I guess while I rested for a month I lost my “base tan”. I wouldn’t have got this burnt this time last month.
Anka and I were sharing a room with an Asian guy who didn’t speak much English, but I noticed he had a Naturehike brand tent like I do, although his is a 1 person tent. He was a cyclist who was cycling to Tekapo. We didn’t see much of him as he was still gone from the room when I went to sleep. On a side note, the beds are extra comfortable at this backpackers. There were two bunk beds in the room and two standalone single beds. The Asian guy had taken one of the bunk beds when we arrived so Anka and I got the two beds. How nice of him.
Well this section is over with now. I remember Louise saying she thought the section was beautiful. I guess it was – it wasn’t as beautiful as the Richmond Ranges or the Queen Charlotte Track or the Waiau or Goat Passes but it had its charm. I’m glad it’s done now and I’m looking forward to the next bit.
Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):