11 Feb, 19km, sunny most of the day, cloud cover late afternoon
So much talk about weather and rivers flowing high. The trouble we have is access to reliable up to date information. The Internet and wifi is not steady and throws you off frequently. The Lodge’s wifi works in a small space around reception so a congregation of people linger there.
Lake Ohau Lodge does a bed, dinner and breakfast deal. The breakfast starts at 7:30 so a late start leaving Ohau.
The lodge has a frisbee course, these are the targets.
I was first away, my bag was packed and waiting out front, I’d checked out before breakfast. Ross and Laura passed me at about 8km mark. 3 Hut Phil stayed at Ohau waiting for a mate to start tomorrow.
The lodge was 4km up the road from the trail head but the cycle trail heads straight up to Freehold Creek from the lodge. A mountain bike track that meandered and climbed. About 2 dozen cyclists passed me in drips and drabs. They had their e-bikes screaming up the hill, cheering and sending their best wishes to me.
Looking back to Lake Ohau the view was great as I climbed 800m up into and through the beech forest.
The forest tracks.
Freehold River was good company but out of sight as I was walking. I could hear it tumbling down not far away as I climbed. It wasn’t until I hit the tree line that I was introduced to it.
At the Freehold Bridge Ross and Laura passed me. The last of the cyclist passed at the same time too. This is where the TA track started. I had taken a short cut from the lodge.
A pleasant climb over a couple of rock slides as the track traversed to join East Ahuriri River. This was a steep and rocky climb. It was here I met some NOBOs. First Linsey, she was so motivated and generous with encouragement. Before her start in Bluff she was following my blog so knew who I was. Linsey gave good tips for what’s ahead and how us older trampers can achieve the distance and endure the physical challenges. Inspiring!
Once up and over the traverse I was not expecting the terrain to be so challenging. The track descended into the valley and then followed the East Ahuriri River at it’s source.
I met another couple the same age as me and we chatted about the challenges on the top. Today was a big day for us all. Linsey and the couple stayed in East Ahuriri Hut so I made that my destination for tonight.
Later two 20yo boys came towards me asking how far to the lodge. They had a bad day yesterday taking the 10km bypass around Ahuriri River at 11:00pm with head lights. They were stuffed, but at the time I was not aware of the challenges they had just faced that still lay ahead for me. I shared the short cut to Lake Ohau Lodge with them.
Back to my tramp into Ahuriri Valley. The track descended sharply down a crumbling hill on sliding scree. I was not ready for this, the head phones were OFF and I was switched into full concentration mode. The track went through very high mountainous scree. There was many river crossings of the Ahuriri East River that was small at it’s source. The track often went up into the scree and through grass and Matagouri with sharp spiky prickles as it wound it’s way up the valley. Spearhead grass had needle sharp leaves that drew blood when it pierced the skin.
Many ghekos or skinks scattered from bathing in the sun on rocks on the track as I approached them. Too quick to take a picture. Some were very big and fat, similar type I have at home. A small hedgehog sat on the track with it’s head hidden.
Finally I sighted the hut at 6:00pm. Not so long ago there were other shearers buildings in the valley but these are all gone now only this hut remains. Rustic, made out of tree trunks and branches. The beds have wire netting as a slung base. A couple of mattresses and carpet so the wire doesn’t scratch. It’s a lovely hut, with concrete tiles on the floor. Stream close by but no toilet. Have to go up the hill dig a hole and cover everything with soil and a rock. Instructions in the hut.
The wind came up and it got quite cold over night. I was cosy in the old hut. And as always the day comes to an end.