Day 83 Locke Stream Hut to Arthur’s Pass Village via Aitken Carpark

2 Feb, rain showers – heavy rain

Monique a NOBO arrived into Locke Stream Hut just on dark last night.

Locke Stream Hut

Both Monique and Mat helped me understand how to navigate the river bed track they had just walked. This was good advice offered to navigate where the track was was washed out and different to the maps. The problem for me was a river bed with many options to exit or walk through. How would I know where the exit was?

The simple instruction was to head up the valley on the true right bank, don’t go into the bushes use a track if there is one or else walk in the river bank until you have to cross and exit. There aren’t many markers but I had to work it out.

Monique offered to walk me out in the morning to see me on my way even though she was heading in the opposite direction, I declined. She had Harpers Pass to cross and had walked 35 km yesterday, what a Forest Gump she was.

Anyway I headed out at 7:00 found a track and followed it. It wound in and out of the river bank and on small sidlings of grass.

The rocks in the river bed were hard to walk on but eventually I ended up at Kiwi Hut turn off after 2.5 hours.

Still trying to beat the heavy rain that was due to come later I kept going in the drizzle that was steady all morning. No time for photos, the phone was only pulled out for navigation.

Walking in good grass tracks before I met the four wheel drive tracks that took me through a small private camp area. This lead to the rock river bed again. Gee these are hard to find a track and decide where to go still no markers.

I walked past the turnoff marked by cairns and checked my GPS I was way off track. Two hours later I found myself back at the same cairn in heavier rain to be on the right path. It continued up the four wheel drive that was well marked. What a relief, I was where I was meant to be.

I walked through the Aitken bush until a rocky section that was a steep sharp incline hairpin where two large slippery rocks challenged me. It was quite steady rain at this stage.

It was here I lost my footing and slipped down a meter into a pool of water the size of a washing machine bowl. There was no bottom. I was totally submerged my pack holding me down in the water. I popped up like a cork.

My poles had floated past and caught up in the narrow but deep stream. One shoe was dangling attached to my gaiter being dragged toward my poles. I was stuck not going anywhere. The flow was about walking pace and the water clear.

All I could think about was wet gear and wet pack = heavy. So I edged myself out of the water bit by bit to only fall back into the deep narrow gap filled with water a second time. Slowly I edged myself back up enough to roll over and remove my pack. I was in a difficult position to pull myself up and out of the water and up onto the rocks.

Finally I inched myself back up, grabbed my poles from downstream, put my dangly shoe back on and continued walking. The rain a little heavier now after 45 mins.

I arrived at the Morrison Aitken turnoff and headed straight for the river crossing.

When I got to the braided Otira River it was cloudy and swift. Otira River is a braided river with four parts.

I had to cross here to end this section. I crossed each braid technically correct. The poles were shuddering but I continued to the other side of each to finally end up ‘there’.

A moment of relief in the now pouring rain then up and over the bank to the masts and along a fence to a carpark. Tsai’s car was the only one in the carpark and I was relieved the key opened it.

I quickly changed into warm clothes and sat relieved, warm I had made it!

It was steady and heavy rain at this stage as I squeezed my pack and wet gear into the Diahatsu, tiny 900cc. Tsai a seasonal worker had her entire possessions spread out on all seats. Not much room for my wet pack and clothes but it worked.

I stopped for a coffee at the cafe at Arthur’s Pass Village and drove to Bealey Hotel, collected my box, cancelled my reservation and headed back to the Sanctuary where Clo and Siene were staying, they had sent a text to say there was plenty of room there.

The Otira Valley Rivers were roaring by now. I crossed just in time. Otherwise I would have had to walk to Morrison’s Bridge way up the valley and walk back for the car.

It was great to have Clo and Siene there they too were concerned whether I made it out or not as the rain became more steady and heavier.

A bit frazzeled I was glad today was over.

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