March 23rd 2017
Stodys hut – Albert town
Total distance: 1613.4 miles
It was so cold in the night, and waking up was easy after my 10 hour sleep but getting out of my sleeping bag was another story. I don’t think I had been bothered by anything in the night but I later found out that’s because the mice were busy running over Erin and Hugo in the hut and the possums were bothering Markus in his tent because he had an empty tuna packet in there with him. Good for me. Not good for him!
I managed to drag myself out and packed up and left with numb feet and hands. This had to be one of the coldest mornings on the trail so far, not below freezing though I don’t think. I walked slowly up the old farm track which thankfully was a lot more gentle than the previous climb, it wasn’t enough to make me want to remove any layers though. My feet didn’t feel normal until about an hour in. The skies were clear and I had some awesome views across the southern alps, it was a beautiful crisp morning. The clouds started to roll in and it got really really cold. The ground was covered in frost and I was glad we didn’t camp up here. Markus passed me on the way up, his legs are at least twice the size of mine and he has size 15(uk) feet! 15!!
I got to the top of Breast Hill (hehe) and Erin and Markus were there and Sandy and Colin arrived shortly after. It was semi clear when I arrived and it was warm enough to remove my coat and hat and gloves for 5 minutes until the clouds rolled in again and everything went back on. We stayed up there for a while, ate some snacks, checked our phones. And I made everyone participate in some group photos!
The downhill the other side was intense. The clouds cleared away a bit as we descended and we got some views over the lake which were very nice and gave me an excuse to stop often to give my knees a break. Some parts were really steep and one wrong move could have ended in disaster, but I managed to stay upright despite some precarious trips. I walked half of it with Erin and got to know him a little better, he is from Virginia and is the same age as me which is nice because this is a very young trail in general. Not that I’m calling myself old, but you know what I mean.
I was very relieved to have reached the bottom because my knees had had enough a while ago and it was finally warm enough to take off my jacket. We all sat on the dirt road at the bottom with a German girl who was travelling about. We welcomed her in to our group and she sat with us while we ate some lunch. Cars drive along this dirt road very fast and they covered us with dust as they went by. I now feel pretty gross, with a fine layer of dirt covering my whole body, and a pretty thick layer covering my legs. It was then only 3.5 miles to Lake Hawea which promised food and soda. It was a beautiful walk along the lake and the views and the weather was perfect, and it was flat and smooth!
It didn’t take long to get to the store/cafe/bar/takeaway all in one place and Markus and Erin were already there eating fish and chips. I ordered fish and wedges which came with sweet chilli and sour cream. Definitely a contender for the best fish and chips of the trail. And big cans of double dirty Mountain Dew were only NZ$2. I thought I could drink a lot of soda but it turns out Erin is the champ. Three big cans and a beer. What a machine.
We were there for a good hour and a half and we all felt absolutely terrible having consumed so much so quickly, but we took some comfort in the fact we all felt as bad as each other! It was 5:30 and we still had another 7 miles to do to get to Albert town so we only had a short day to get to Wanaka tomorrow. We followed the Hawea river track again which I was pleased to find out was a great smooth path. I walked with Erin and Markus and we chatted the whole way. It was really nice to get to know them a bit more. The river had two man made waves in and people were in the river with their surf boards surfing on the waves which is so cool. I’ve seen that once before in Munich.
We arrived at a campground a little before the one we were aiming for and a couple chatted to us who had heard of the TA and thought it was amazing so they offered us some of their food which was nice of them. We carried on to the next campground and found a spot in an area very busy with car campers. I imagine it’s going to be quite a noisy one but we are on the edge of a big town so it’s to be expected.
I had to write two posts tonight, yesterday’s and today’s and that’s the first time I’ve ever had to do that. But I’m finding it easy to stay awake tonight, whether that’s from the good sleep from last night, the noise of the road or the caffeine from the dirty Mountain Dew. But it may be because I’ve had a thoroughly bloody good day. Great trail, great views, great food and great friends.
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.