Day 59 Browning Hut to Starveall Hut, via Hacket Hut

9 Dec, 10km, today marks 1000km all up

After my late arrival and a full hut yesterday, my pants were still muddy and my pack a ramble shambles. Stuff all chucked in to keep everything separate to everyone elses small collection of stuff.

I was up at 5:15 to get my breakfast, make my lunch and pack my stuff away so it’s easy to carry and access what I need. It wasn’t long before I had company and everyone was packing and getting ready to go, it was shambolic. I felt pressured to be off again by 7:00.

We did leave the hut at 7:00 rather cautiously because there were a lot of stream crossings ahead and wet feet meant protection cream on feet. It wasn’t long before I was walking on my own.

The track followed Hacket Creek often leading into the creek.

It was a pleasant morning first to Hacket Hut. I walked past the bridge to Hacket Hut so I took my pack off and walked back to the hut to see if Marty was waiting. No he must have walked on. It appears through later discussion that I walked to the right at an earlier fork and the group of 5 and Marty took the left route and passed me without either group knowing. Where was I caused concern for the group if 6. I was never the wiser.

Walking in the river rather than two meters up in a sidling was much nicer and easier than yesterday. The terrain today was flatter and mainly beside or in the stream. So many stream or creek crossings though some were more technical than others to negotiate.

The final crossing was faster flowing, wider and difficult to get to the safest start position. So a scale of a rock bank first then the water crossing before negotiating an exit from the stream.

I could not avoid crossing a really swift section at some point. Off I went, one foot, one pole, other foot, other pole. I lost one walking pole here and jumped in the water to catch it from getting away from me. The water exit was one challenge too much for me and I had to climb up the scraggly bank about 2 meters, it was a mission.

Who knew there were places albeit them tiny to stick your toes into and tiny roots to help support your weight climbing up a wet muddy and slippery bank.

By the time I got to Starveall Hut at 2:00 Marty had left a warm fire and a note to say he had gone on since he arrived at 11:00. The walk to the next hut was 2.30hrs but it was only a 6 bed hut and I wouldn’t get there untill late anyway. I knew the crowd of 5 were staying there so with Marty it would be full.

The walk today included climbing as well as sole river crossings. A steady climb up to 649m then another up to 900m and then the final one up to 1248m. Starveall Hut a welcome sight as always.

The final climb up through the tree roots seemed to never end and then a group of 12 mountain bike riders came screaming down the hill with their courage and go-pro photographing their thrill ride. They had helicoptered up to their start point at Starveall and would be collected after their downhill run. They messed the track up a bit making the walking track hard to make solid foot placement.

Finally I arrived at the empty Starveall Hut just as it started to rain. Josh a new TA walker arrived at 5:00 soaked. He confirmed that last hill was a killer and long, as other walkers have said since.

Josh a young Tararua tramper just into a 2 month hike. He reckoned 2 months was long enough for him to go as far as he could. I’ve been going 14 weeks and the enjoyment has started to fade.

Another early night with a spectacular skyline as I wandered back from the long drop.

Starveall Hut

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