March 21st 2017
riverside camping – private hut/camp
Total distance: 1575.8 miles
The wind last night did not let up. At one point the tent was being blown so far over the side was touching my face. You could hear the wind whistling down the valley before it reached the tents and I was able to brace by putting my hand up into the corner. I stayed like that for quite a while between 1 and 2am, before I had the idea to use my trekking pole. Some tents use trekking poles only so I used it as they would, with the blunt end on the floor of the tent and the top of the handle wedged into the corner. It worked. I could lay down properly and have an interrupted sleep, which was better than no sleep. The strongest winds would still wake me up.
I also did some planning. If I were to walk 17 miles a day for 20 days I would finish the trail on April 11th. That’s not many miles over not many days. And some of those days would be road walking or flat so more miles would be done on those days. We had planned 5 days for this section – Twizel to Wanaka – and the way we are going we will end up getting to Wanaka on the morning of the 5th day with only 3 miles to walk to town and big days. Yesterday hurt my body, I was over ready to be done at the end of the day and I could feel myself getting grumpy, so I planned a more even spread of miles over the days, but still getting to town around lunchtime.
No one slept well because of the wind and I proposed my idea, it didn’t get much of a response, but I think I will do it anyway. If they want to push on to do more miles they can, and I will see them in town the same day. Colin and Sandy left first, with the instruction to wait at the river of it was difficult to cross. I left shortly after and Marcus left shortly after I did.
I catch up to Sandy and Colin after walking through a swampy area that they had seemed to avoid only to have come across another swampy area. It looked clear on the other side of the fence so we crawled under and followed a 4wd track until crossing over the fence again to rejoin the trail. It looked like many people before us had done this. The trail was flat and easy to walk on for a bit as we passed a big pine tree farm with rows upon rows of pine trees.
Then we came to the river crossing. This crossing of the Ahuriri river is the widest crossing on the trail. I assessed the river and I was quite pleased with myself that I ended up finding the most sensible place to cross. The water was mostly under the knee with just a couple of times going to mid thigh, and the current was totally manageable. We climbed out the other side and onto the top of the cliff. We saw Marcus trying to cross. I was concerned at the place he was crossing because it looked deep and swift, he was tiny because he was far away but I kept my eye on him and was pleased to see him safely on the other side.
We carried on to the area marked as a car park on the map and took a break for lunch. We had been moving slowly and it had taken longer than we though to get there. When Marcus joined us he told us his river crossing had come up to his chest and he thought he was about to go swimming. I wish we had just waited for him, but thankfully he is fine. It was another 15 miles to a hut and it was up and over quite a big climb that I just didn’t have in me today. Marcus was having trouble with his ankle, Colin has bad blisters on his foot and everyone was tired from last night so I went through my plan again, which involved only going 6 more miles today. Everyone agreed that a shorter day would be nice and we could still make decent time to Wanaka. So we decided to chill out there for a bit longer. Then Hugo arrived. I thought he was in front of us but you never know with him because he goes off and does his own thing. After a brief catch up he was off again and wanting to make it to the hut.
We set off again and I had to make a stop for my 5th nature poo. The afternoon was just beautiful, nice weather, surrounded my beautiful mountains and the sound of running water as we followed a 4wd track gently uphill. I was really thirsty and stopped for water a few times, drinking at the streams so I wasn’t carrying too much water. I walked and chatted with Sandy for a bit and we made it to the hut, where the boys already were, at about 3:30pm everyone agreed that they didn’t want to go any further and were happy to call it a day here. It was so beautiful it wasn’t a chore to hang out here.
We all sat around for a couple of hours chatting. We spoke a lot about relationships, and Marcus, having found out I was a good 10 years older than he thought I was earlier today, asked me if my parents were disappointed that I hadn’t got a man and I hadn’t had kids yet. Being 20 years old he probably thinks I’m down and out. I informed him that life doesn’t always happen the way you think it might, or happen the way you are told it should happen, and that not everyone wants to marry and have kids. And no, of course my parents aren’t disappointed in me. Aside from that I tried to entertain my three young friends with ridiculous life stories and I’m sure they were mostly laughing at me but at least they were laughing. So you have a man waiting for you at home, Marcus asked me. No, Colin replied for me, but she does have someone waiting for her in Methven!
It started to get cold so we set up our tents and lay down for a while. Eating, reading, relaxing, hiding from the sand flies. I was starting to doze off until I heard some rustling next to me, looking out my tent I saw it was Erin the American guy we had run into a few times. His friends had decided to go to Mt Cook and there are another group of three not far behind us. So there are 5 of us camped here tonight.
I needed this relaxed day today. I’m not in a big hurry to finish the trail. I have plenty of time, although I do realise we are heading into autumn now and the days are getting shorter and it will start to get colder (hard to believe after the balmy temperatures today). It’s a constant struggle to adapt to the seasons in the Southern Hemisphere, I can’t get my head around it.
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.