Te Araroa NOBO (Days 24-26)
Today was another day of figuring out transportation. I checked the weather, and it was showing rain all day. Unfortunately, this ended up being true. It wasn’t heavy rain, but it was constant. I decided to book a bus rather than attempt to hitch from Rolleston to Ashburton.
The end goal of my day was to get to Methven. From there, I had a shuttle that would bring me back to the trail. It’s been nice to be off the trail for a few days, but I sure am ready to get back.
I made it to Methven quite early in the day, which was great! I finalized my resupply for the next seven days on trail, and I went to bed early. The trail continues tomorrow!
The shuttle from Methven picked me up at 9AM from my lodging, and then we stopped to pick up two other NOBO TA walkers: Melanie from Australia and Andrew from New Zealand. They’re dating and have been walking the trail together. The shuttle was over an hour long, and it was gorgeous to watch the mountains as we came closer. The mountain peaks were dusted in snow and envelopes by fog and clouds. It looked like it was going to be a cold day even if we were still warm in the van.
Our shuttle driver dropped us off at Harper Campsite, and the day of walking began at 10:15. My goal was to make it to Hamilton Hut, and I was there around 3:15 (it was roughly 11.4 miles in 5 hours for today). The day was challenging even it it was shorter. There was no less than 20 river crossings, and three different times I was thigh-high in the water. One crossing made me quite nervous; the water was moving quickly and I almost lost my footing. I was so glad to have my trekking poles to help keep my balance.
After spending the majority of the day in the river, I was SO thrilled to be at Hamilton Hut. This hut is the nicest, biggest hut that I’ve stayed at on the trail. There are two rooms with 20 bunks total. Some of the beds at triple bunks! I had never seen triple bunks before today!
Once I claimed a bottom bunk, set my socks on a drying hanger next to the fire, and organized my food for the night, I sat down and chatted with the SOBO hikers at the hut. They had all come from Arthur’s Pass and said that it was well worth going off trail to do so. I wasn’t planning on it… but we’ll see.
About an hour after I arrived to the hut, Melanie and Andrew arrived as well. We caught up on the day’s happenings, and they played one of two card games they had brought with them. They then taught me the other game: Citadel. It was a fun game and easy to catch on to. We played two rounds, and I had so much fun! I was impressed that they brought these games with them on the trail, and I was super grateful for the fun!
What a cold morning!! I was slow to get ready today, because I could hear the rain coming down outside. I finally got up at 7 and was out the door by 7:30. It was such a cold and wet start to the day. I was super grateful that the day didn’t include 20+ river crossings. I had to cross rivers and streams 3-4 times, but it was nothing like yesterday. I tried to keep my feet as dry as possible, because it was too cold to have wet feet. Some days, it’s nice to be in the water… today was not one of those days.
Something that today made me think of (and this wasn’t the first time) is the monkey stairs on the Inca Trail. In 2016, I went to Peru to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It was a short, easy four day hike. On the final day, there was a section that the trail guides called the Monkey Stairs. The reason for this name is that everyone who climbs the stairs ends up climbing like a money: with both their hands and feet. This is because the stairs are so steep that it’s disorienting to try to walk up any other way.
The steep sections of the trail remind me of the monkey stairs. Tree roots make up the stairs, and other times it’s loose rock and dirt. I usually use my trekking poles rather than digging my hands into the rocks, but today, because it was so cold, I used my hands to hold onto tree roots as I climbed up the steep sections of the mountains. It was a tough climb, but it was shorter than what I’ve previously encountered.
I passed by three DOT huts, and I passed by 5 SOBO hikers. Three of them told me about The Sanctuary at Arthur’s Pass and recommended that I contact Bill to see if I could stay there. I was planning to push on to a campsite on the TA, but with Arthur’s Pass being so close (and the idea of hot food) I decided that I would see how I felt when I got to the third hut. I arrived to Bealey Hut by 1:30, and it was way too early and too cold to stop for the day.
I continued walking out to the road, and I decided to take the advice of the SOBO walkers and hitch up to Arthur’s Pass. I walked about a mile before I got a hitch. He dropped me right at the cafe, and I was able to find The Sanctuary and set up my tent before grabbing a steak and mushroom pie and sinking into a warm, cushy chair in the cafe. I think coming to Arthur’s Pass was the right decision.
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