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  • Writer's pictureJenny

Days 66-70 Rakaia river to Rangitata river

Day 66 ~ Walked: 16 km, ~ Start: Glenrock stream at Rakaia river ~ End: Comyn hut (km 2281)

Saturday 4th December

We’re now in the Canterbury high country and such a difference to the wet west coast bush we left behind. There was a hot nor’wester and the ground was so barren and dry.

We shared a shuttle to the start point with Karan Britt and Corey, so along with Kim Jackie and Phil there were eight of us. Lucky the first hut we were all heading to was an eight bunker.

Comyn hut

A pretty straight forward day for getting back into it after a rest day. Apart from the initial hill climb in the heat it was very enjoyable.

Cute hut on the way

Day 67 ~ Walked: 16 km, ~ Start: Comyn hut ~ End: Double hut (km 2297)

Sunday 5th December

The dry heat didn’t last. We were woken overnight by a big storm; heavy rain and howling winds. We didn’t rush off in the morning as it felt like it might be clearing. Even the young ones (Karan, Britt and Corey) who were planning on going much further than us and had early alarms set waited an hour or so. Around 10 the rain had stopped and off we went.

We were straight into the Hakatere river (north branch of ashburton river) out of the hut then followed it upstream for 3km. And then 4km up the round hill stream. The track was literally the river and we had to decide the best course through it, across it, or pick a side to get the longest run of shingle before hitting a cliff. Of course the nights rain didn’t help. Every crossing (and there were over 30) had to be carefully assessed and executed to be safe. I’m a lot more confident now with Phil’s technique of crab walking while facing upstream. It was a very challenging and mentally draining section.

It took us two hours on the first 3km and to make matters worse the rain had started up again within our first hour. We were clearly in for a long hard day.

Finally after exiting the rivers there was a climb to a 1400m saddle, sidling along some huge scree banks, then descending through tussocky hills where the path was a steep slippery clay slide. Needless to say we all slipped over numerous times. Where the ground was flatter there were little hidden gouged out streams amongst the grasses that we tripped into causing more falls.

The rain did not stop all day and the south easterly wind was particularly bitter especially along the high peaks. We only stopped the once fairly early on as it was to cold to stop. We ate a couple of snacks on the go for our lunch. Finally we reached the hut around 5-30 very thankful for the day to be over.

Up till now the super hard days have been super rewarding. Today could be summarised as super hard but most unrewarding. We saw no views due to the low cloud, and were cold and wet the whole time. I only took two photos all day and they were bad quality due to rain and the phones protective cover. And even the relive video is cut short because my phone died (just for the day, not permanently). I think after today we are owed a day that is super rewarding and not at all hard work.

The best thing about the day were the TA hut angels tins with goodies for TA walkers to take and also to leave items for following walkers. Not that any of us actually had anything from them but it was a nice concept. (We had plenty of our own treats with us to make us feel better)

Day 68 ~ Walked: 27 km, ~ Start: double hut ~ End: by Mt Guy (km 2324)

Monday 6th December

More rain was forecast for today. We didn’t have river crossings so my main concern was enough warm clothes if any more got wet today. Our rain coats really only keep an hour or so of rain out and I only had two dry tops left.

Wearing all my layers

The terrain today was very straight forward which is just perfect after a challenging day. It was largely over flattish grasslands with just enough of the spiky bushes (matagouri) and spear grass to be annoying.

And fortunately the rain held off all day. The cold though was the worst I’ve felt to date. Apparently it only got to a high of 6 degrees but felt much colder with the wind chill from the bitterly southerly.

We stopped at Manuka hut which was only 6km in for a snack and to warm up. We actually had our lunch then even though it was only 10am as we knew it would be too cold to stop anywhere else for the day.

Manuka hut

There were no more huts for the remainder of the track, and we hadn’t wanted to walk the 38km to the track end so we began to search for our campsite around the 10-12km remaining point. We had a bit of to and fro tossing up between water sources, rocky ground, shelter from wind etc and finally set up camp just as the drizzle set in. We were at 882m altitude and the cold was getting worse. So there was nothing else to do but hunker down, eat and go to sleep. I slept in three merino layers (I’d dried one out by wearing it over top of a dry one while walking), my puffer, gloves, two pairs dry socks and merino buff and I still kept waking up every hour or two cold. I’d wiggle around to generate some heat and luckily get back to sleep again. I was thankful for morning so I could get up and get walking again to keep warm.

Phil & Jackie, us, Kim

Day 69 ~ Walked: 10 km, ~ Start: Mt Guy ~ End: Potts river/ Rangitea river (km 2334)

Tuesday 7th December

The end of this section is the Rangitea river which is a hazard zone and doesn’t form part of the TA trail. The trail continues on the other side but the river can no longer be crossed safely. This means transport has to be taken for the 135km road trip to that point. The transport has to also be pre-arranged as there’s no cellphone coverage at the exit point. Our pick up was arranged for 11 am so we had to make sure we allowed ourselves enough time to get there then.

The terrain was similar again to yesterday, grassy flats with various lakes and tarns. This made for good tracking for our timeline.

Lake Clearwater and village behind

The last signpost said 3.5km/1 hour just as we had an hour left. We’d been doing a much faster pace so I was quite relaxed and started taking a few more photos. Then the hurdles started. Long wet grass obscuring the path and the very wet sloppy cow pats, a steep descent down a bluff and a few more final river crossings. And we arrived at the end at 11:01.

Potts river grey with silt from rain

The driver had warned us he may be a little late as was doing another transfer beforehand. At 12 just as we were wondering what our plan b was, he turned up. We’ve actually had him return us to Methven instead of into the next section as we will firstly finish off the Bealey to Lake Coleridge section seeing as there is no more rain forecast over the next few days.

End point at Rangitata river

It felt like coming home, back to our little pods we stayed in a few days ago. All warm and cosy after the wet and cold of the trail. And a nice dinner out to finish the evening.

Day 66 ~ Walked: 16 km, ~ Start: Glenrock stream at Rakaia river ~ End: Comyn hut (km 2281)

Day 67 ~ Walked: 16 km, ~ Start: Comyn hut ~ End: Double hut (km 2297)

Day 68 ~ Walked: 27 km, ~ Start: double hut ~ End: by Mt Guy (km 2324)

Day 69 ~ Walked: 10 km, ~ Start: Mt guy ~ End: Potts river/ Rangitea river (km 2334)

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2 комментария

14 дек. 2021 г.

Wow, some tough hiking there - you'll be pleased that's over !!


Julia Dolan
Julia Dolan
07 дек. 2021 г.

Well done guys, those river crossings look extremely challenging. It's amazing what you can manage when you have to, even managing to stay warm in limited dry clothing. Glad to hear the shirt drying method worked. 😀

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