March 15th 2017
Methven / two thumbs track – stream
Total distance: 1462.3 miles
I didn’t go to sleep until about 2am having stayed up far too late chatting with Rory and Matt. I chose to sleep in the communal area which meant I couldn’t go to sleep until they had buggered off out of my bedroom! Matt chose to sleep in the living room too because he had packed up his car to accommodate us, but he is not sofa size so he put the cushions on the floor. At 6:30am I was wide awake, which really isn’t enough hours of sleep in a night. My feet, calves, thighs and hamstrings were all cramping up.
After we had eaten some breakfast, we packed up and said farewell to Rory. I was a bit sad to say goodbye to him, I’d had a lovely couple of days and I felt that ‘connection’ that I haven’t felt for a long time. Being completely rubbish at reading any signs I had no idea what he thought, but even if I never see him again, just that feeling of a connection has given me a nice boost and had restored something inside me. We bundled into Matt’s car and were on our way back to the trail around 10am. I was hoping to leave a bit earlier to ensure a timely arrival in Lake Tekapo on Friday to meet a friend, but I’m sure I can make it work.
It was a bit grey out still this morning but as we drove the clouds were disappearing and the sun was intense coming through the windows. The drive took over 2 hours, with half of it being on a gravel road. We encountered cows on the road which was mildly terrifying, but other than that the journey went as smoothly as it could along the bumpy road. We drove past Colin and Sian who were trying to hitch, and we couldn’t give them a ride because the car was full, so we waved at them as we went by. They started hitching yesterday afternoon! This road is really remote and I can’t thank Matt enough for taking us and making it so easy for us.
We found the trail head, which was the start of the Two Thumb track and Matt geared up to hike with us to the first hut about 5 miles into the trail, then he would walk back to his car. After days of rain and cold it was a scorcher today which was good because were were immediately thrust into river crossings. A first for Matt and he was unsure about the whole wet shoe thing but he took the plunge, and it’s not as bad as it seems, especially on a nice hot day. The orange poles were difficult to see and I was lucky to have Matt there because his 23 year old eyes are much better than mine. We crossed the river several times and it was quite strong in some places. Thankfully it didn’t come much above mid thigh, but it did make me happier in my decision not to attempt crossing the Rangitata on my own.
I was chatting away for the first couple of hours and I didn’t realise I hadn’t taken many pictures. Although it was hard to see the orange poles it was hard to go wrong as we were following the river up the valley. We saw a search and rescue helicopter fly overhead. Later we ran into some southbound TA hikers, the SAR was for one of them, the girl had become stuck in a scree slope and was clinging to a rock so one of the guys pushed his spot and the helicopter came and rescued her. They also told us they had spent some time off the trail escaping the rain and had chosen not to cross the Rangitata, they spent he whole day yesterday trying to hitch back to the trail but were only able to get within 10 miles so they walked 10 miles to get back to the trail. Even more grateful for Matt.
I was ok walking and crossing the rivers, I felt good, then we had a relatively short but steep climb to do and I felt awful! I felt sick and dizzy, my legs were in so much pain it felt like they were full of lactic acid and at one point I just felt like I wanted to cry. I didn’t think I was going to make it. I was struggling to breathe and I though this could be my dying day. I really felt awful. I stopped for a moment. Removed my pack. Had a wee. Had a drink. Then carried on. That was all I could do. Thankfully I made it to the top of the climb without dying and I was granted a small downhill reprieve before the big climb to the hut began. Rest is great for the mind, but my body thought we were done with the walking!!
That climb was also super steep and agonising, but at least this time I didn’t feel like I was about to die, I just felt like I would get there incredibly slowly. We all made it to the hut, including the 3 new people we had just met – James, Vivien and Erin. And after a quick break it was time for Matt to depart and make it back to his car before dark. I’m really pleased he had a little taste of the TA, and it really threw a lot at him, rocky terrain, river crossings, dense forest, big climbs. I hope he enjoyed it.
The little French Canadians and I decided to continue on, our goal was to get to crooked spur hut tonight but it was still pretty far away with a climb up and over a saddle still to do. With the time nearing 5pm it was looking unlikely we would make it. The sun was low and intense as we climbed through the tussock up to the saddle, it was a lot less steep than the other climbs of the day and we made it to the top in a reasonable time. I was probably getting tired and hungry, but I was getting annoyed at the lack of trail and the poor marking down the other side of the saddle. The ski poles are probably great in the snow but they are bugger all help to me right now because I can’t see them. The tussock is hard to walk thorough and when they suggested camping at a stream around 7pm I quickly agreed. Now the sun had gone down and the sky was so clear it was getting cold.
The camp isn’t the best one we’ve had. We are on a bit of a slope and I feel I will be bunched down the end of my tent in the morning, but at least I’m not sleeping with my head downhill this time. It’s definitely a hat night tonight.
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.