March 16th 2017
stream – camp stream hut
Total distance: 1478.2 miles
The aim was to leave at 7am but it was cold and dark and predictably we didn’t leave until 7:30am. It felt absolutely freezing and getting out of my sleeping bag was such a difficult thing to do, but it really wasn’t too bad and I had to strip off my layers that I had bundled myself up in within 10 minutes of setting off.
A beautiful sunrise started the day off well, and it was a fairly easy tramp through the tussock to the first hut of the day. Easy apart from the snow poles being spaced so far apart that it was difficult to find the trail. When we arrived at the hut there was a box full of those bloody poles! Maybe they could install a few more on the trail…
After a quick snack break we carried on to the next hut. We immediately crossed a stream and we were thankful for the nice weather because the water was cold. It was a nice gradual uphill to Royal hut (where Prince Charles and Princess Anne once visited). I was feeling a lot better physically that I did yesterday. My legs hurt less and I didn’t feel like I was about to die so that was an improvement. We had a big climb ahead up to Stag Saddle (the highest point on the trail) so we fuelled up at Royal hut with food and water. I have cheese this time and it’s such a welcome break from tuna.
Any clouds that were hanging around this morning had now burnt off and it was a scorcher of a day. A beautiful day to reach the saddle as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I’m pleased we waited for good weather, it would have been a shame to get all the way here and not see anything. The climb started off gently, following the Bush Stream track and crossing over the river several times before rising steeply up through the tussock and rocks. It took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach the top, a little less for Sandy and Colin who are younger and more spritely than me! But I wasn’t too far behind and when I got there they were talking to another person. A northbounder called Alex and he was, of course, French! He was from New Caledonia, and I consider my geography to be quite good but I had no idea where that was! Now I know, and I know that they speak French there.
The view from the saddle was beautiful, Lake Takepo looked an incredible colour. We sat and chatted to Alex for a while and ate some snacks, we got some cell service and I was able to check the weather for him. I also received some nice messages from a certain young man I had recently met. I was at the highest point of the trail but I now felt like I was on top of the world. We decided to take the ridge track down which isn’t recommended in bad weather, not something we had to worry about today, and I felt like I was floating down on cloud nine (until I tripped and rolled my ankle a couple of times, that crashed me back down to earth. Luckily no lasting damage). Once we crossed the scree we got views of Mt Cook and Mt Cook National Park.
I continued to float down the trail and we made it to a private hut before joining a 4wd track, which had an unexpected climb before we rejoined the official trail and made our way to camp stream hut. We had seen a big group of youngsters (late teen kind of age, which I now refer to as youngsters #gettingold!) earlier in the day who told us there was another big group going in the other direction. And they were all camped at the hut. Colin is a very light sleeper so we found a flat spot about 100m from the hut and pitched our tents there.
Sandy and I went to collect some water, we were expecting to have to go back down to the stream but we chatted with some of the people at the hut and they told us there was a pipe just past the waratar (which is what the marker poles are called. I’ve learnt so much today!).
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.