Days 39-41 Richmonds part 1
We had a great evening at Pelorus campground comparing notes with two fellow TA hikers Hamilton and Lisa and also a last season walker. It’s finally starting to feel like we’re not the only ones out here doing it. It’s an understatement to say I was nervous about this upcoming section so all the information I could get helped. I’d been following outdoors_with salty on Instagram and he had just come out of the Richmonds so I messaged him to seek some reassurance and guidance. He gave some great insight but the comment of “it’s super hard work but super rewarding” hit home for me. I’d been to wrapped up with the hard scary aspects I had been forgetting there were some rewards to be had! It also made me remember my ‘why’s’ for doing this and that to be challenged was one of them. So I actually went to bed quite relaxed and even excited about what was to come.
We woke to the loudest most varied dawn chorus I’ve heard in a long time. A beautiful hot shower and we were packed up ready to go by 7-30.
There was a 14km road walk to the start of the forest and our plan was to hitch if possible. There was only four days of good weather forecast before a deterioration and we needed to get as far through the Richmonds as possible before then.
I knew it was a country road but I thought there may have been the odd car go past. After an hour of walking and not a single car to be seen we were resigned to walking the entire 14km. Fortunately soon after a day tripper on his way to the forest stopped for us.
The beech forest and track was so enjoyable I forgot my pack was even on. There were little glimpses of the Pelorus river and it’s emerald pools all the way along.
About an hour in I had a refreshing swim in officially named Emerald pools. The sandflys swarmed once I got out but they didn’t seem to bite which is odd for me.
The swim kept me cool for hour but it was such a hot day I was pretty much overheated the rest of the day.
The Richmonds are serviced by a great number of huts and they are each 3-5 hours apart which is great for choosing how far you want to go in a day. It usually also means you can stop at a hut for breaks. To make the most of our couple of hours saved road walking we thought we’d push through to the third hut. But we stopped at Captains creek hut for lunch, and Middy hut for afternoon tea.
The last 5km to the Rocks hut was all up a pretty steep hill. Given I’d been overheated all day this topped it off. I’d got through three litres of water and ran out with an hour remaining. I was quite dehydrated by the time we got to the hut.
At least the uphill track was nice and wide and pretty beech forest. As some of the riverside trail had quite narrow rocky ledges in parts.
We finally got to Rocks hut at 6-30 pm after 11 hours of walking. We were pretty shattered. Hamilton had beaten us there by several hours even without hitching. He’s young and fit, but what a machine! There were even flushing toilets here so a bit of a fancy introduction to hut stays for us.
I’d been woken during the night to the plb giving its low battery warning alarm. I was gutted. We were conserving every bit of charge on our devices possible as we had to be able to last at least 10 days. Being so exhausted on arrival the previous night I’d forgotten to turn it off after sending our ‘we’re safe’ message. And when it’s inside it can’t find the satellites but keeps trying and consequently drains the battery. I recharged it from our battery pack but that made less available for our phone use. To conserve further I minimised photo taking and didn’t record a relive video for the day.
There was a bit of bush walking through beautiful filtered sunlight to begin.
We climbed a few more hills and the vegetation became a bit more stunted. It felt good being on the hilltops and seeing mountains all around us.
It was another hot day and I became conscious of blowflies constantly following me. When we stopped for lunch at Browning hut I took the chance to have a good wash in the stream and wash my clothes. I ate lunch in my underwear so the clothes could dry in the sun. (No photos sorry haha). It was hot enough to put them on a bit damp and carry on after lunch. It did seem to keep the blow flies at bay for a while.
There was a steep forest descent and small stream crossing before reaching Hacket hut at 3-30.
We’d been hoping to make it on to Starveal hut today but that would have taken us till 8pm and we thought it wiser to not have two big days immediately before the more challenging days ahead.
We had a relaxing late afternoon and were happy that Lisa caught us up and stayed at Hacket the night too.
So far we’d been almost spot on to the Doc guidelines for timings on the various sections which I was thrilled at. Going into the Richmonds I was sure we’d be a lot slower. Today was a 6.5 hour (guideline) steady climb. As I hate uphills and with my overheating issues we decided to take it extra slow and also leave at 7am before the heat got up.
Again there was more lovely walking to start through rivers, crossing to and fro, waterfalls and mossy lush forest.
The good thing about climbing is getting good views and outlooks. As we were taking it so slow it was actually quite enjoyable.
We stopped for lunch at starveal hut and we got to chat with Marley who was just finishing his lunch. He’d overtaken us on the track not long prior.
The afternoons climbing was more mountainous. We were learning to identify ’false summits’. So many times we think it must be the last summit, but no. Just as we reach it we can see the next bit.
We arrived at Slaty hut just after three and was pleased to find even with our taking it slow policy we were still on the Doc timing guidelines.
Lisa and Marley were both there already so was so good to sit in the sun chatting, comparing notes on our day, our plans and stuff. They both seemed amazed at how light our packs were so there was a lot of discussion on what we each considered essential items. I must say I was surprised that deodorant could even fall into the optional category. But equally surprised that I hadn’t smelt where it had been missing.
I was very happy that Marley had considered a pack of cards essential. Although he’d packed the most lightweight ones he’d had which happened to not have the suit symbols for its number. Eg 5 clubs did not have 5 club symbols on its face. Hence they were no good for euchre scoring. I’m pretty sure us girls must have won though. It’s now feeling like we have a TA family around us.
Day 39 ~ Walked 32 km, ~Start: Pelorus Bridge ~ End: rocks hut Richmonds (km 1856)
Day 40 ~ Walked :14 km, ~Start: rocks hut ~ End: Hacket hut, Richmonds (km 1870)
No video recorded
Day 41 ~ Walked :10 km, ~Start: Hacket hut ~ End: Slaty hut, Richmonds (km 1880)