February 22nd 2017
Top Wairoa hut – Porters Creek hut
Total distance: 1207 miles
Worst nights sleep ever!! The woman who came into the hut late snored, the worst, loudest, most terrible snoring you have ever heard. I tried to listen to some music do drown it out, but with only one working earphone it didn’t work. The others were getting really annoyed, especially Colin. Julia decided to take her sleep mat and cowboy outside, and Sandy and Colin followed.
The only thing I could do was try to not let it annoy me. It’s weird trying to not let it stress you out, because then you have to deal with the snoring and someone getting stressed! Ultimately none of us got enough sleep, we got about 3-4 hours each which is just not enough.
Eventually the wind became too much for those who chose to go outside and they came back in, but still the snoring was too much and at 5:30 Colin and Sandy started packing up. Between the snoring and the rustling I had no chance of sleeping to I just lay there hoping that lying down would be beneficial to my body even though I wasn’t asleep.
Julia and I ended up leaving around 8am. We felt dreadful, like we had woolly heads, dizzy and a bit nauseous. I was definitely dehydrated. With a big climb ahead of us I decided our approach should be one that involved not sweating too much and not getting out of breath. So we climbed slowly up over the big boulders, climbing in a similar way you would when at high altitudes. We really needed to hydrate, so we stopped at the stream midway up and had a break and a litre of water. Despite going slowly we were actually doing quite well to be half way already. We were out of the tree line and it was super hot early in the morning, it was going to be a hot one, summer has finally arrived it seems just in time for our climbs!
It took us 2.5 hours but we finally made it to the top, we walked a great ridge line with awesome views over the ranges. The wind picked up and it was a bit chilly but it helped blow away the cobwebs and clear out our thick heads. A couple more hours saw us make the steep rocky descent to Hunters Hut. The trail was clearly marked but very slippery in places, lots of tiny little rocks which are so easy to slide on, so it was slow going. At the bottom we crossed the creek, getting our feet wet unfortunately as they had just dried. A short but very steep climb, and the first breathless push, got us to the hut.
Sandy and Colin had got there an hour and a half before us and were having a nap. Hunters Hut is a really nice hut, one of the newer ones, it replaced one that was swept away by a flash flood in 1995 on the 23rd February. Almost 22 years ago to the day. We had lunch there and then also had a little nap. We could see where we had descended from that morning and there was a great view from the loo, probably the best one so far!
We had plenty of time today so after a half hour snooze, which was unfortunately all I could manage before the others started rustling and getting going again, Julia and I slowly packed up and moved on to our last 4 miles of the day. It was only 4 miles but the expected time was 4 hours, so there were some steep ascents and descents ahead. My plan was again to go at a pace that prevented breathlessness and excessive sweating. We broke our afternoon down into the three climbs, 2 little ones and a big one at the end. We crushed the first two, stopping at streams at the end of the downhills to make sure we hydrate properly. We did a lot of procrastinating before starting the big climb. 1000ft over 1 mile. It was too hot to climb 1000ft over 1 mile.
We had plans to stop half way, hydrate and carry on, but when we checked the gps we saw that we were really close to the top. That was a big boost and we decided to carry on. The terrain had changed to volcanic and the trail was slanty and washed out in places but we powered on, getting too sweaty and breathless in our bid to get to the top as quick as possible. We whooped and hollered when we made it to the top. What looked like an almost impossible task with how we were feeling this morning was complete. We cruised our way down to Porters Creek hut, a little orange beacon of hope in the distance.
I was so pleased to have finally made it, we got there just after 6pm after a very leisurely but very difficult day! Julia and I stuck together all day which was much nicer that trudging through the difficult bits alone. We reunited with our friends at the hut and we are keeping our fingers crossed for a quiet night. We watched the first half of the first LOTR on Sandy and Colin’s iPad, until it got dark and we could no longer keep our eyes open.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.