3 March, 23km
Weather is fine but a cool morning the cloud lifted by 11:00
I had two nights at Holiday Park Top10 in a room with a bed and shower. Running water and a toilet! It even had a TV that wasn’t used.
I didn’t sleep too well and woke wide awake at 2:00am. Finally I dropped off for a few hours sleep.
I had some breakfast at the Sandfly Cafe before packing up to be ready for Track Net Shuttles at 11:00. The ride will take me 33 km back to the track junction where I left it on SH 94.
My aim was to get to the first hut, Princhester Hut, 6km walk up the gravel public road and through a working farm. As I was dropped and went through the gate a herd of sheep was guided onto the road expertly driven by dogs along the highway. This cleared the path for me to get moving in behind them.
The road dwindled on to a farm track just before the Hut and just beyond the tree line.
I filled up my water bottles in the stream and headed off at 1:30. My intention was to stay there and get an early start tomorrow. Max texted me and they had trouble getting a hitch. He encouraged me to push on to Aparima Hut and so I did since it was so early.
From the get go it was a climb in beech forest. It became dense, muddy in parts and tight turns on narrow overgrown tracks to the saddle between Bog Burn and Waterloo Burn. These names should have given me a clue that a mud track was ahead. Even though the track was generally dry wet areas are very wet due to the water and gravity.
I stopped at 3:30 for a break in a clearing at the top of the climb. There was still 15km to get to the hut for shelter for the night. I expected to get there by 7:30 so I needed to keep stops to a minimum and get tramping.
Once at the top it descended into tussock where you couldn’t see the track but markers showed the way. Easy to loose the well trodden track in the long grass and easy to fall with an uneven path with holes, rocks and clumps of slippery grasses.
Finally at 5:00 I came to an open valley that was really difficult to navigate. I couldn’t see any markers. I walked in circles for a short time and then I spotted a marker. This marker led me in and out of stands of tightly grown bush. There were several of these to pass through and very pleasant to walk in. I saw this interesting bird sitting on the top of a sapling beech at the start of the final forest section. It was high up on the hill and the beak was similar to the takahe.
At 7:15 I noticed I was loosing the light and was glad the track then hugged the bushline on top of the knoll. It meandered through the valley with great views across the tussock valley.
At 8:45 finally I came to the sign letting me know the hut is 2km away. Uphill I climbed toward the Aparima Hut and high above the river.
With the twilight I could see the track quite clearly and so followed it until a 4WD track that led into the dark bush. I stopped to find my head torch at the top of my pack and had a pee. I also used my phone torch so I could see the triangle markers on the trees in the now pitch black.
I was 500m away from the hut so my GPS told me. I arrived at the hut, tapped in the door waking Bex and Max at 9:30. I took 8 hours, left too late in the afternoon, it took Max and Bex 7 hours.
I quickly removed the muddy shoes and socks, ate the rest of my cafe lunch with a hot cuppa and laid out my sleeping bag up on the top bunk.
A long day with no idea of where the long drop was. Max collected water earlier and made it available to me so I could get some sleep.