Day 75 Blue Lake Hut to Waiau Hut via Waiau Pass

A delayed post due to internet access.

25 Jan, 28km, 4km over the pass.

I was a little overwhelmed with what laid ahead on this day. There was two options to camp before the pass and again after the pass.

First was a steep climb out of Blue Lake Hut to find the Lake Constance lookout.

Blue Lake
The start

The alpine plants were a great view walking along the path. Then, I missed the marker to follow the snow poles up to the bluff, instead followed the cairns down to the lake. In the distance I saw two people going the right way so readjusted my route. This was Clo and Sine, two I have continued to share huts since. The mis step took an hour to get back on track.

Following the snow poles over the bluff I got a good view of Lake Constance. The cairns helped navigate me through short, high and rugged rocks that formed the bluff. This was technical climbing as the track descended to the lake.

Then a walk in the valley floor to where my first camp option was. At the southern end of Lake Constance a tiny stream was clear and a good water source. It was before lunch and so decided to keep going and past the second camp option before the climb. The clouds were slowly following me so I went for it.

First was a steep climb for about a kilometer among grasses leading up the side of scree.

Then the track went across unstable scree but still climbing. It was here I heard rock falling, behind me out of the safe zone.

I thought keep climbing steady does it. It was hard to get foot holds but the slide was minor. As I neared the top it became easier.

The clouds had rolled in and all I could see was 2 markers down. It didn’t take long to get up there but I wasn’t at the top yet. I heard a celebration and then saw two girls full rain gear jumping for joy. They had cell phone reception and passed on the news all NZ in Red.

I put my rain coat and gloves on and kept going in light rain with maybe 50mtrs visibility.

Over the top it was rain and a little wind but I could see nothing. Over and around for the descent. Tall rocky crops marked by cairns. Slow long, challenging but so exciting. Rock climbing down slippery rocks using any method that worked. My bum was useful to lower myself to the next shelf. The clouds blocked out how far up I was giving some comfort in not seeing the height.

This was great fun. No pictures with rain and no time to take gloves off.

The visibility improved and this helped manage the sheer cliff faces that lay below.

I was never scared or tired, adrenalin boosted the moral, this was great fun.

The descent was a careful exit off the pass because it was slippery rock and grass. It slowly wound it’s way down to the Waiau River.

The walk down continued to the Waiau Forks campsite. Decided to give that a miss and look at Caroline Bivvy a few kilometers ahead. Putting a tent up in rain wasn’t a comfort so kept walking.

An old hut, poor ventilation and needed airing.

Still more walking to do to finish the last 3km to get to Waiau Hut.

Off the pass the rain became mist but I kept my rain gear on.

I arrived after 13 hours walking to a 6 bed small hut with 5 occupants. Room for one more? YES, I was welcome. So I crammed into a top bunk and made pumpkin soup for dinner.

Good company, Wayne a section walker, Clo and Sine I met in the last hut and walked ahead of me, and two other trampers Phil and Tim.

We had good conversation, I lit a candle so gear didn’t get mixed up. The hut was so crammed.

So tired, candle blown out. An amazing long and blissful day. Waiau Pass conquered.

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