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Gerard’s blog Boyle to Rangitata River

It’s 15 December and I’m sitting at home thinking about the last leg of our journey. Back on the trail from Boyle and we are a team of 6. Phil, Jackie, Kim, Karan and us. We caught up with them all during our rest days in Hamner Springs. It’s comforting to be in a bigger group, especially since Phil and Jackie are from around this area and know what to expect and what to look out for. Our main challenges this time could be a late dusting of snow, rain, snow melt and with that river crossings. As some of the tracks are running along river beds.

Karan has left us to join up with a young couple that came thru to our hut one night. He said he has enjoyed his time with us and we of his company. He will be missed.

We come across huts of all types. Stayed in Locke Stream hut in the Southern Alps that was built back in the 1940’s as a physical welfare division hut. Still has all the original wall framing, rafters, purlins and flooring boards which show all the pitch marks in the timber’s as it was hand crafted from locally sourced timber. Quite impressive to see such an old hut still in existence.

We have relied on the twice daily weather forecasts that came thru our mini Garmin PLB each morning and night, thanks to grumps. As generally we have no cell reception this helps us decide if we need to pull out of an up coming section due to expected rain. We did this close to Arthur’s Pass as the next section thru the Deception Valley route over Goat Pass which is mainly in the river bed and rain was coming.

Must say the braided rivers look better from the air than in person. Found them shit to walk down with rocks of various sizes to contend with and picking your line to cross the rivers was a challenge.

We skipped a section because of weather and headed to a section between two big rivers, the Rangitata and Rakaia. As these rivers are large braided type and the TA asks us to get rides or hitchhike around them, this is quite a deviation.

Waimakariri river from Bealey

We are still a group of 5 and one section between Comyns and Double huts involved a lot of river crossing, so many that I gave up counting them after 30. Due to last nights rain they had a good head of water in them and it continued to rain that day so the water in the rivers just kept on building even though we were heading up stream. After 7hrs that day we made it to Double hut wet and cold and hungry.

That night we had our first mice visitor looking for a snack. He called twice that night but found nothing to eat.

The following night we tented in the middle of nowhere, in the rain close to Lake Clearwater our altitude was 840 meters above sea level. It was going to be cold that night, I ended up wearing 4 layers plus my puffer jacket. Temp about 0 I’m thinking.

Waiting to be picked up - recent snowfall on mountains

Wayne collected us at the end of this section. He talked about river flow rates of the Rangitata River on the drive back. While we have been away it had peaked at 1000 cubic meters per second while the normal rate is about 150 cubic meters, that’s a shit load of water. This rain had affected other TA walkers he said who had to wait it out or skip to other sections.

We have heard that the recent rain down south has washed away a swing bridge we had used. Just shows us how we need to respect the forecast and rain falling in the river catchment area’s.

Drove past Terrace Downs golf course to Lake Coleridge (looked expensive) but didn’t have time to play 18 holes (and probably lose the same number of golf balls). Walked 30ks that day along mainly a gravel road, long day and hard on the feet.

I’ve lost some of my comfort layer over the last 10 weeks. Having trouble keeping my shorts from falling off. So working on trying to put some back on while at home.

Happy Christmas everyone.

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Dec 15, 2021

Well written Gee, sooner you than me on those river crossings, but all conquered in the end, so well done. Catch up shortly.

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