Saturday, 10 March 2007

Stage 6 Breakdown


Day 67: Glenorchy - Scott Creek - Kaye Creek - Upper Caples Hut
Day 68: Upper Caples Hut - Steele Creek via Steele Saddle - Greenstone Valley - Greenstone Hut
Day 69: Greenstone Hut - Pass Burn - Mararora Valley - Taipo Hut
Day 70: Taipo Hut - Mararora Valley - Mavora Lakes - Kiwi Burn - Kiwi Burn Hut
Day 71: Kiwi Burn Hut - Kiwi Burn - Whitestone Valley - Kakapo Road - Te Anau
Days 72, 73, & 74: Rest days, Te Anau

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Stage 5 - Return to Disneyland

20–23 February – I spent a day at Makarora resting up and continuously eating. I sorted out my gear and the stuff I wanted to leave behind, and spent a little time on the Internet catching up on email and writing a brief update on my blog site. In the evening I gave Malcolm Brown a call to see if might be able to look after the gear I wanted to leave behind. I was ditching all my alpine gear and the extra food that was left over from the previous leg, so I had quite a lot to leave behind – too much to easily send home. We I told Malcolm what I was up to, he offered to put me up in Wanaka for the few days I needed to rest up to come up straight away and pick me and my stuff up. I was blown away, and accepted gladly. When we got back to Malcolm’s place I ran into Kyle, Nic, and Nina, who had just come out from their trip up the Haast Range. We sat around swapping war stories, and all of a sudden the idea of swapping radio aerials came up. This seemed to be the easiest way of getting around my problem, rather than having to wait until I got to Glenorchy to pick up a new one, so we exchanged aerials the next morning, and I tried the new one out with great success on the morning sched after setting it up in the street outside Malcolm’s house.

I spent the rest of the day, and the next two at the computer, trying to catch up on my blog. I did wander into town a couple of times, but tried to not move around too much, as I was keen to give my legs a decent break. I did do a bit of stretching though, which seemed to help a bit.

Nina was keen to join me from Makarora to Cameron Flat in the Matukituki, so we arranged what she needed to take and when to leave. We managed to pick up an extra person over coffee on the 23rd. Nina’s friend Swenja had a German girl, Simone staying with her who was interested in tagging along. She hadn’t done much, but I was assured she was fit, as she was a triathlete, and had just completed an Iron Man. I was a little hesitant, but just shrugged my shoulders and said okay. I would wait and reserve judgement. I didn’t really want to be playing guide, but figured Nina could keep an eye on her, as she didn’t speak much English.

Nina and I met at Malcolm’s, then drove around to Swenja’s at Hawea Flat and picked up Simone, then drove up to Makarora and stopped for a quick beer before finding a campsite beside the road and cooking tea. After that we turned in and had an early night

24 February – We were up and away by 0815. I realised when I was repacking my pack that I had left the crackers I was going to need for lunch back in Wanaka, so we made a brief detour down to the store, then drove back up the road and left Nina’s truck at the start of the track around 0900, before heading across the paddocks to reach the Makarora River.

The crossing at the Young confluence was only about calf deep, and the track up the Young was a pleasant change from all the bashing of the last leg. The nice open beech forest and pleasant open flats were a pleasure to walk through. I had a knee brace on my right leg to help support it, as this was the more niggly of the two legs at the moment, andit seemed to work well.

I was watching Simone closely, but she seemed to be enjoying her first New Zealand tramp. She got a serious buzz from crossing the Makarora and the North Young swing bridge, which was good to see, and seemed to enjoy the walking, though she did mention that Nina and I set a cracking pace.

We had a leisurely lunch above the gorge in the South Branch of the Young River, and crossed Stag Creek shortly afterwards. It was here that I thought we might be soon arrive at the new Young Hut, and sure enough just after we had a short break beside the river and started the final climb up towards the upper basin, we stumbled across the hut. Young Hut is positioned in a bush clearing and is a huge 20 bunk monster, complete with a large sun deck – quite different to the old hut, which was situated on the top of the bluffs on the edge of the upper basin of the river. We soon discovered that the water tank was pretty much empty, so had to go and look for an alternative source of water, which was luckily just a few metres up the track from the hut. We lounged around in the sun for a while, drying our wet boots out and generally sifting. After a while sitting around, a solo female Japanese tramper arrived at the hut (A very rare sight!), dressed to the in walking shirt and trousers, and a veil pinned to her sun hat to keep those pesky rays out. She seemed to speak English pretty well and said “Hello” as she arrived, then disappeared into the hut to change.

We soon decided to pop up to the upper basin for a look, just in case the weather was as bad as forecast the next day. I was keen to go and see what was left at the old hut sight too. We cruised up the track and soon broke the bushline. I headed back over to the old hut site while the girls wandered up valley. All that was left of the old hut was a couple of flat rock pads where the hut and coal shed had been. It was kind of sad to see, as I had some great memories of staying here in the past. I bid the old hut site adieu and wandered up the valley to join the girls on top of a large rock they were lounging around on. We hung around there for a while, enjoying the views up and down the valley before starting to get cold and heading back down to the new hut around 1730. My left leg started to wind up a bit on the way down, but wasn’t too bad. I was a little worried about it giving me grief on the descent from the pass the next day, but I could only wait and see what it was going to be like.

We got back to the hut and started chatting with Chi, the Japanese girl while we cooked tea. She has been living in Cairns for the past seven years, but this is her first trip to New Zealand. She had already down the Harman Pass/Taipo River trip up in Arthur’s Pass and the Rees/Dart, and was heading off to do the Dusky with some friends once she had finished this trip. Nina and I were shocked to see how little food Simone had brought on the trip when she pulled it out at dinner time. It didn’t look like nearly enough to get her through to the Matukituki, but she didn’t seem too worried about it. Hmm.

Around 2000, just as we were settling down for a nice quiet evening, a lone Israeli guy arrived and informed us that there were another six Israelis were on the way – so much for our quiet, peaceful evening. As soon as the other people arrived, the whole vibe of the place changed. They were noisy, messy, and pretty much stuck to themselves. They tried to get a fire going to dry their wet clothes, even though it was late, and a warm evening where a fire wasn’t necessary. The three girls were soon scurrying to their bunks to read or try and go to sleep. I remained out in the kitchen and wrote up my diary before turning in and listened to my MP3 player for a while before finally going to sleep around 2230.

25 February – I got up to go for a leak some time during the night, and it was drizzling. It was still the same when we got up the next morning, and the tops were buried in a deep layer of grey swirling cloud. We were glad we made the decision to head up to the basin the day before, as this didn’t look like a day to get any views! The Israelis got up early, but then just hung around and didn’t do much, except try and get the fire started to dry their clothes out again. They had made a mess of the hut, leaving food scraps in the sinks, and trying to jam some of it down the plug holes – a real bright thing to do when there is no water! We had breakfast and were first to leave the hut.

It didn’t take long to climb back up the track to the upper basin, which was full of cloud and the drizzled started to turn to rain and the wind started to pick up. We donned our rain jackets and continued up the scrubby track towards the start of the climb up to the pass and stopped to fill our water bladders in a side stream on the way. I let Nina lead and put Simone in front of me, as I wanted her in the middle while we were going through the rougher terrain heading over the pass. We started on up the hill and the rain started to intensify. The wind started to really blow through in strong gusts too, and at one point a particularly strong gust blew both Simone and I over. Simone was going slowly, and it was obvious that she hadn’t done much New Zealand style hill walking. Occasionally I would have to point out where to go, as Nina wasn’t always in sight and Simone wasn’t good at following the foot trails. We steadily gained height steadily, and I when I looked back down into the valley from time to time, I could see the forms of some of the other hut occupants following us up. The rain came and went, as did the wind. At times we would have to brace ourselves until an occasional strong gust subsided and then move on.

We passed through the scrubby section at the bottom and up onto the tussock, which lent back a bit more. At about ¾ of the way up to the pass Nina stopped and put on some more layers, as it was getting quite cold. I kept going, as I still felt okay, but didn’t want to stop and get cold. We told Simone to keep moving too if she wanted to stay warm, but decided to stop and put some layers on too after about 20 metres, so I was forced to stop and wait. Nina caught up with me and asked if I was okay. I said yes, but really needed to keep moving. Simone soon caught up with us and I went back to my Tail End Charlie position, but by this time I was starting to cool off, and because of the slow pace, found it hard to warm up again. We soon reached the Pass then did the final climb up to the terrace before you start to drop down into Siberia Stream. It was out of the wind, so we stopped, and I puto n my DriClime jacket and over trousers to warm up. We agreed to just keep going until we got to Siberia Hut, as stopping for lunch wasn’t really an option in this unpleasant weather.

We started our descent just as the first of the Israelis caught up with us. The south side of the pass was less windy, but it was still raining steadily. The descent down to the stream was steady, and the girls soon pulled away in front, as I was being careful not to aggravate my quads too much. They twinged a wee bit, but the lighter pack I was carrying was helping quite a bit. We stopped briefly once we made the bushline and had a quick snack. It was here that Chi passed us. Nina had been worried about her in all that wind, but she was chirpy as ever and soon vanished down the track. We followed shortly afterward, but didn’t catch up to her again until we got to the valley floor.

Once we reached the valley floor, we all strode out on the flats, and unfortunately soon left poor Simone behind. I stopped every now and then to make sure I could see her before striding off behind Chi and Nina who were motoring down towards the hut. We arrived at Siberia Hut around 1330 and chatted with the warden, Prue. She was surprised to see us so early in the day, but we told her we hadn’t really stopped at all because of the weather. She said that the hut had been crazily busy recently, and was again just about full today. Nina and I looked at each other and decided to head on down to Kerin Forks for the night after lunch rather than sharing Siberia hut with 30 odd people. I mentioned to Prue that there were a couple of beers in the wardens fridge that had my name on them courtesy of Paul Prince, who had been wardening here over summer, and who I had just missed by a couple of days (Thanks Paul – they went down a treat!). Her eyes lit up and said “ah, you’re the guy they are meant to be for! I just about gave them away yesterday when somebody else came up from Kerin Forks.” I went and retrieved the bottles from the fridge and then went back to the hut kitchen to have lunch. By then Simone had arrived, and Nina had convinced her that it might not be a good idea to continue on over Rabbit Pass with us. It would probably be a better idea that she do the day trip up to Lake Crucible and then either fly out or get the jet boat. Chi volunteered to look after Simone, which was nice. We told her that under no circumstances was she to walk out down the Wilkin and try to cross the Makarora by herself. I was kind of relieved that she was happy to do this, as I was concerned at how she might go over Rabbit Pass, and with her lack of food.

We had lunch and then Nina and I trundled off down the cattle track towards Kerin Forks. We just missed the jet boat, which may have given us a lift across the Wilkin if we had made it to the drop off point in time, but ran into four guys coming the other way and told them that Siberia Hut was already full as they passed by. We crossed the Wilkin via two channels. The main channel was waist deep, but not fast. Nina didn’t like it too much (A bad river experience some time in the past), but we got across okay. We scrambled up the steep south bank and reached Kerin Forks Hut to find an English couple, Andrew and Helen already in residence and the water tank almost empty. Andrew had already got the fire going, and we soon had all our wet gear slung above it to dry. We proceeded to drink my beer and have a nice evening sitting around talking with Andrew and Helen. Some time around 1800 or 1900, another couple arrived at the hut from Forks hut up the Wilkin. They were keen to camp out for the night, but were happy to come in and cook dinner with us. Cole and Jill were an older couple from Warkworth, which is north of Auckland, and were generally tiki touring around the South Island, tramping and camping along the way. Cole managed to break into the hut wardens water tank at some point, which saved us having to go down to the river, and we all spent a pleasant evening sitting around baking in front of the fire chatting about this and that.

26 February – We got up about 0700 and had breakfast. The others didn’t have to go anywhere, as they were all waiting for the afternoon jet boat, but got up when we did anyway. Nina and I were ready to leave around 0830 and said our farewells, but didn’t quite make it out the door! Almost two hours later we finally managed to pull ourselves away from yakking and proceeded to head up the Wilkin. The day was mainly fine, but there was some cloud hanging around the tops and a strong wind up high. The track was easy going and we made good progress following along the river. We had a break about 1100, then pushed on up to Jumboland. We reached there around 1245 (It always takes longer than I think it’s going to) and ran into a couple of ladies coming the other way. Nina turned out to know them both. One of them was the wife of Whitney Thurlow, who runs the Wild Walk tours over Rabbit Pass. She mentioned to Nina that another friend of hers, Hamish was camped up by Top Forks Hut with some clients if she wanted to catch up with him. We parted company, and Nina and I walked up to the top of the flat before stopping for lunch. I had started to feel like I wasn’t eating enough, and lunch was no exception. I had to be very careful to not just keep eating past my daily ration – particulary after spending several days in Makarora and Wanaka feeding my face!

After lunch we spent more time travelling through the bush before breaking out onto the large top flat before the forks. It was here that Nina asked me if I was okay, as I hadn’t been talking much and appeared to be a little defensive. I told her I was fine, but she had to realise that it took me a while to get used to having other people around after spending long periods of time by myself, and that by the time I got used to their presence they were gone again. It had been a little different on the Copland, as I had just come off ten days of having mark with me, but I just come from a long stint of being by myself. She also had to realise that she was bringing all the every day crap of the outside world with her that I really wasn’t a part of just then. It’s quite a different head space you find yourself in when you are away on a long journey like this.

A helicopter buzzed overhead and landed out of sight up the valley, then returned back down the valley shortly after. We figured that it must be a guided party that had been dropped off. Would the hut be busy when we got there? Cole and Jill had mentioned that the hut had had about 34 people in and around it two nights before. We passed the massive slabs on the true left of the valley and the funky waterfall that came down from the tops before heading around the side of Point 710 rather than taking the high water track over the top of it. We crossed the Wilkin twice. The first ford was almost waist deep, but not swift and the second only calf deep. A short walk up onto terraces gave us our first views of Mount Pollux appearing out of the cloud. We reached Top Forks hut not long afterward, arriving at about 1530. It was a kind of homecoming for me. I really like this spot, and was glad to arrive there once more. A quick inspection of both huts revealed that there were up to three others already in residence, but no one was about. We made ourselves at home and lounged about for a while. Nina was keen to go up and visit Hamish, who was camped up by Disappearing Lake, but when she found that it was about two kilometres away and that we had to cross the Wilkin to get there, she decided against going.

An Aussie and Dutch guy arrived at the hut not long after we had arrived. They had been up to the lakes in the North Branch, and it turned out that they were the only others staying at the hut. The third lot of gear was Hamish’s. We chatted briefly, but didn’t really click, so we pretty much kept to ourselves that evening. Just as we were setting the radio up, another couple arrived at the hut having walked up from Kerin Forks. We did the sched and cooked tea. I sat around and talked with this new couple for a bit while I was eating dinner. Hamish dropped by later that evening and hung around for a while chatting before everybody finally drifted off to bed. I sat up writing up my diary to the sounds of Tool and Trinity Roots blasting in my ears, and finally turned in about 2300.

27 February – We woke to a wonderful dawn display on Pollux the next morning. The night had been a restless one of mice rustling through food bags and the Wellington lady getting up in and loudly complaining that she had found a mouse in her food bag, then exclaiming that there was a possum out side – Ahh! Just go back to bed for Christ’s sake! The two lads left the hut around 0800 and we left around 0830, leaving the Wellingtonians to do a day trip up to Lakes Lucidous and Castilia.

The track up to Waterfall Flat was looking well used, but it was still a bit of a grind. I took a while to get going, but soon found my stride about half way up to Waterfall Flat. When the Waterfall Face came into view, it looked to be in reasonable shape, though there appeared to be a bit of seepage lower down on the rock ledges. We wandered up the flat and had a snack by the large rocks on the last flat before the Waterfall Face. We could see the two guys who left in front of us away in the distance starting to climb the face. It was interesting watching somebody else climbing up the face, and we stayed put until they were near the top before pulling on our loads and heading over to the start of the climb.

We passed a couple who were in the process of decamping, and exchanged pleasantries before taking to the tussock fan that led up to the rock ledges at the base of the route. We put away our poles and then started up the ledges. One of my poles stubbornly refused to go in, so I had to bang it in a way before sliding down the side of my pack. The ledges were a bit damp, but weren’t slippery and we soon made the spur. There appears to have been a lot of traffic here since I was last here in 2004 and the route is starting to look a little bit like a ladder, though I wonder how long its going to be before this starts eroding. We soon reached the top of the spur and started traversing out left towards the top of the face. Again some of the narrow ledges were a little damp, and there was still very little in the way of things to hang on to, but we snuck through without any hassles. I asked Nina what she thought of the face, and she said it was easy, and that she wouldn’t have any qualms about downclimbing it. I was tempted to challenge her to go and do it there and then!

From the top of the waterfall we followed the valley up towards Pearson Saddle. Nina said to me that she didn’t realise that the valley was here, and that it was amazing. There was a bit of cloud hanging around Pearson Saddle, but we could see Picklehaube above it. We saaw the two boys clambering back down from the saddle and soon caught up with them. I asked them what they thought of the Waterfall Face, and the Dutch guy thought it was a lot of bluster over nothing. I told them that they should probably reserve judgement until they had completed the descent of the gut on the East Matukituki side of the pass. The boys took off once more while Nina and I ambled up through the valley and over to Rabbit Pass. We stopped and took a few pictures of the spectacular view of the upper Matukituki that you get from the pass then passed the boys again, as they had stopped for lunch beside the creek that ran off the pass. We saw another party off in the distance in front of us before we crossed the creek and began the steady climb up towards the gut. We huffed and puffed up the shelf until we reached the last flat spot before the ridge narrowed just before the gut, and stopped for lunch. The boys passed us again while we were eating and vanished down the gut. We sat around in the sun and digested for a while before making our way over to the gut that led down to the East Matukituki.

Having done this twice before, I knew what to expect. The gut starts with a bit of a scree slope that you zig-zag down before reaching a section of low angled crumbling slab, which you carefully climb down before breaking left and over a bit of an awkward outcrop before down climbing a series of steep, crumbly, slabby columns to get to easier ground. Although a little awkward, I felt quite good on this bit – it is definitely easier to do this with no snow on it, as was the case when I last did this! We wandered down onto another large shelf then dropped off this, steeply descending down towards the valley floor. I let Nina go ahead and came down at my slower pace. My quads were complaining a bit by this stage, so I just lent into my poles and took it easy. We saw the two boys overtake the other party just before they both came out onto the flats on the valley floor and were soon there ourselves. We followed the infant East Matukituki down the expansive flats and around the end of Ruth Ridge, stopping briefly for Nina to have a quick swim in one of the nice swimming holes along the way. We past the tiny DOC workers hut on the Ruth Ridge corner, which appeared to be occupied and pushed on down the river until we finally reached Ruth Flat.

We arrived there to find the other party we had seen already in camp. To my surprise, it turned out to be Phil from the UCTC, who I had met in the Landsborough and his guide Eras, who turned out to know Nina. We dropped our stuff and sat down to catch up. Apparently Phil and Eras had been the ones in the helicopter the previous day, and had walked up to Waterfall Flat and bivvied near the other couple we had seen at the head of the valley that morning before coming over the pass just in front of us. Phil mentioned that the other couple, who were Norwegian, were in the process of walking the entire length of New Zealand, and were apparently following a very similar route to mine from here on, though they were taking their time about it. I regretted not taking the time to stop and talk to them, but decided to keep an eye out for them in future.

The two boys had not made it to Ruth Flat, which puzzled me a bit, but then Phil mentioned that they had talked about a hut, so I realised it was them who were using the one that we had past up valley. We shot the breeze a while longer then decided it was time to set up camp and maybe go for a swim, as it was another hot day. We put up the tent in a position where we could get a view of the magnificent East Face of Fastness, then went in search of a place to have a swim. There was a nice backwater just before the flat that we were camping on, so we went there and jumped in. It was bloody cold, but quite refreshing. After that we went back and yakked with Phil and Eras some more before retiring back to my tent to cook tea. The sandflies had found us by this stage, and we were busy swatting them as we cooked tea. By the time we had eaten the sandfly pressure had risen sufficiently to force us into the tent, but it wasn’t long before it was dark, and I crashed pretty quickly after writing my diary up a bit.

28 February – It was all clouded in when we awoke the next morning. The tent was full of condensation too, so we had to be careful not to hit the walls too much, otherwise a shower of water would rain down on our sleeping bags. Phi and Eras were already up, as they can’t have had a very nice bivy out in the open. They were away just as we started to emerge from the tent. We had breakfast and packed away quickly to minimise the time exposed to the sandflies, who were out in force in this damp, cloudy weather. Just as we were getting ready to leave, the two boys appeared striding down the flats on the other side of the river. We waved to them and then set off down the true left of the river, and soon picked up the track once we climbed up the bank at the end of the flat we had camped on.

Once we arrived at the scrub at the bottom of Ruth Flat, it became evident that the rack had recently been gone over with a weed wacker – not something you would expect to be happening too often in a remote zone. This made following the trail super easy. We followed after the two guys, who had crossed the river and were speeding on down the valley. We had a brief stop and lost them as they entered the bush. We soon followed them and started the long climbing traverse over Bledisloe Gorge. We started out following the track along about 50 metres above the river, then once we reached a blown out side stream the track climbed steeply up for some time, levelled out for a while and then dropped a short way before sidling around a short bluffy section to reach the bushline where we stopped and had a break. Just as we were getting ready to continue on our way, the Aussie guy suddenly appeared behind us, which surprised us, as we thought that he and his Dutch mate were well in front of us. It turned out that they had tried to go down Bledisloe Gorge, but it soon became apparent that the route wasn’t going to go, so they decided to bush bash up to the track, which also didn’t work, so they were forced to backtrack to the end of Ruth Flat and pick up the track again there.

The Aussie was in a hurry, as he wanted to catch the bus going back to Wanaka at 1545, so we let him pass. We soon passed him again, as he stopped for a snack. His Dutch mate had caught up by this stage, so we stopped and chatted for a while before continuing along through the open tussock before dropping down towards Junction Flat. The cloud had not lifted, so we were denied the great views into the eastern side of Mount Aspiring, but we could see up to the waterfall in the head of the Kitchener Cirque, and down towards Cameron Flat.

The descent to Junction flat didn’t take long, and we stopped for lunch in the bush once we crossed the swingbridge. The two others passed us again here, as we stuffed lunch into us. We decided to move out into the sunshine, as the cloud had suddenly burned off, and the sandfly pressure was mounting. We lounged around in the sun for about an hour, to give Nina’s friend Swenja a chance to get a bit of a walk in, as she was going to be meeting us at Cameron Flat and wanted to get out and stretch her legs a bit. We then crossed the flat, and crossed the river rather than head over to the second swingbridge. We passed a group of people having lunch on the bank as we crossed over to the track down to Cameron Flat, and then ran into an irate German lady who was looking for two girls who had apparently wandered off on the way up to Junction Flat. We were told to send them upriver if we saw them on our way down, but we never did meet up with them. We made fast time down the East Matukituki, and were soon crossing the bridge over the Glacier Burn and wandering down the fields towards Cameron Flat. We passed a school group coming the other way and then spotted Swenja and Simone off in the distance with Swenja and Nina’s Jack Russells in tow.

We walked down to meet them and caught up with what Simone had got up to. She had wound up going on a day trip up to Lake Crucible with Chi the day after we left her at Siberia, then managed to get a backflight out to Makarora the following day. We made our way down to the West Matukituki and crossed it with the four dogs swimming it themselves. It was amusing watching them paddling across, going almost as far sideways as the were going forward, but they all made it across, and seemed to enjoy the paddling. We got to the car and Swenja gave me the mini food drop I had given her to bring up back at Hawea Flat. I quickly repacked and Swenja gave me a cookie and an orange to munch on for afternoon tea, then I said goodbye to Nina and Simone and jumped in the car with Swenja and drove up to Raspberry Flat. Swenja dropped me off and gave me a good luck hug before tearing off back down to Cameron Flat to pick Nina and Simone up and take them home. I donned my pack and headed on up the track, munching my orange and cookie as I walked.

The carpark had been quite busy, and I was passing a lot of day walkers coming back from their various destinations as I tromped up the valley. I stopped and took a couple of photos of Rob Roy at one point and noticed a guy over the way doing the same. We started talking as we passed through a farm gate, and wound up walking up to Aspiring Hut together. The guys name was Neal, who was from Wellington, and this was his first time seriously looking around the South Island. He had plans of spending a few days up the Matukituki having a look around, so I filled him in on things to do and the best places to go as we ambled up the valley.

We arrived at Aspiring Hut to find that it only had eight other people in residence for the night, including an English family and a couple of groups of older people. The English family were particularly interested in hearing about Dunedin when I started talking to them, as the wife potentially had a job there in the future. Their son and daughter were generally inquisitive, and also something of a handful (‘nuff said!). Three of the older ladies were from Auckland and one of them just happened to be a long time member of the North Shore Tramping Club, which I used to belong to when I lived in Auckland. She didn’t remember me, but we knew a lot of the same people, and had a nice time catching up on the state of the club. There were two guys who arrived in a truck not long after Neal and I, and they looked familiar. They were gearing up for a bit of mountaineering, which sparked my interest, so I wandered over and asked them what they were up to. They said they were looking at doing a possible new route on Islington Dome, climbing one of the spurs from out of the Matukituki. I found out later that evening that it was Mike Perry and Martin Hawes.

I had tea with Neal, and after exchanging smart remarks with the two kids and enduring the Health and Safety talk from the hut warden eventually started talking with Mike and Martin about my traverse. It turned out that they had done a Mount Cook to Arthur’s Pass trip some time ago, and did a very similar route to what I did, with the exception that they actually made it up onto the Gardens of Eden and Allah. We ended up talking until around 2200, by which time we were the only ones still up, but we had to put a stop to it, as Mike and Martin were getting up at 0500 the next morning, so they wished me well for the rest of my trip and we all went to bed.

To be continued...


Day 58: Makarora Village - Young River - Young Hut
Day 59: Young Hut - Gillespie Pass - Siberia Stream - Wilkin River - Kerin Forks Hut
Day 60: Kerin Forks Hut - Wilkin River - Top Forks Hut
Day 61: Top Forks Hut - South Branch Wilkin River - Rabbit Pass - East Matukituki River - Ruth Flat Campsite
Day 62: Ruth Flat - East Matukituki River - West Matukituki River - Aspiring Hut
Day 63: Aspiring Hut - Cascade Saddle - Dart Valley - Dart Hut
Day 64: Dart Hut - Dart Valley - Daleys Flat Hut
Day 65: Daleys Flat - Dart River - Paradise - Glenorchy
Day 66: Rest Day, Glenorchy