OK, I cheated. I wanted to get to Wanaka quickly to but a kindle and do some shopping so Angelynn and I hitched while Silvan walked.
Although the kindle purchase failed I still consider the idea successful due to having a rest day and buying new underwear and boot creme.
I am unsure whether my boots are going to make the last 500km. There are holes developing and cracks widening. They don’t seem to be handling the constant soaking and drying very well.
Wanaka is a nice town but so many people and so busy we all feel a bit overwhelmed.
Which reminds me…..
Beards. I have always wanted one but have never really had a good shot at growing one until now and that ended today. What annoying things. You can’t eat without food getting in it or chewing on yourself. Soup is a tragedy. Even a drink ends up half in your mouth and half in your moustache. I felt like the Mitchell and Webb moustache skit. So it’s gone and now I have a strange white face. This may take some getting used too.
At some point someone worked out that we did roughly 2000m of elevation changes today. It certainly feels like it.
The first order of the day was 9.7km of rough terrain down the banks of the Timaru River until reaching a path that the notes say,”climbs steeply to the treeline” in a classic peice of understatement. 900m elevation up a shitty bluff would have been closer to the truth.
The next part of the track was listed as a Te Araroa highlight and it was. It ended up on Breast Hill 1578m overlooking Lake Hawea and Mt Aspiring national park before “descending steeply” down to the lake.
Dinner was a seafood salad and a bottle of Coopers Creek Pinot Noir, for medicinal purposes, whilst the mountains we had descended glowed rose in the sunset.
We tried to get out early as there was a buildup of T.A. walkers at the river. Further up the valley we found out there was about to be a buildup of cyclists as well as the “Pioneer” bike race is on.
Angelynn wanted to take a slightly alternative route, basically ridgeline instead of valley, and I said I would join her. Good decision.
The first hill was fairly steep but we were entertained by the mountain bikers getting off and pushing their bikes. Angelynn was being very supportive, clapping and encouraging them, where as I thought cries of,
“Your almost halfway there!”
…had a definite downside to them.
Once on top of the ridgeline things got considerably easier and we were treated to one landscape on one side of us and another on the other.
I also found a hat. It is a little to small for me (eg: I’m slightly bigheaded) but it works. The beard on the other hand is terrible. How do people deal with them? The hair in your mouth, the left over food… not for me I think. Which is a pity because I always wanted one. Perhaps another trim.
Humans are an interesting species. Apparently very social. This must be true as out of the 4 acres of empty campsite, the french set up right next to me last night and then proceeded to wake up at 6:00am and make a hell of a racket.
It could be said that I didn’t want to get up this morning.
We still left before them.
My compliments to whoever did the tracks around Lake Ohau as they are relatively nice and well kept.
This one led up a valley and over a pass and then down another valley and then I lost track. By the time I had realized that we hadn’t yet come to the end of the valley we were almost 10kms further on at the Ahuriri river.
Crossing wasn’t a huge problem although we did link arms in anticipation. Downstream to cross one braid and then up to cross two more. Nothing to it. Time for food and bed.
I’m not completely sure what happened but some people we passed yesterday were going to Tekapo to ride bicycles to Lake Ohau with Angelynn.
They turned up shortly before dark with the plan to get up today at 5:00am to walk the last 16km before 10:00am when the bycicle arrived at Tekapo. A plan I point blank refused to consider after walking 40km.
We arose at 7:30am, a far more reasonable hour, and after roughly 200m of walking I suggested to Silvan that we should hitch to Tekapo and have a Zero Day. He said,”no” for maybe 30 seconds and then said,”hell, why not”.
It is possible we expected it to take more that 5.5s to get a ride. None the less we were in Tekapo in record time at which point we decided that biking to Twizel possibly wasn’t a bad idea.
This is why I am sitting outside a rather expensive motel, drinking a glass of Shiraz and cursing my knees. The cycle life is not for me.
But hell, we made it and it was an alternative in the notes. I rest my case, and knees. Also, I hope I don’t see another bike for another 20 years.
I have no idea why we walked so far today. We started at 7:30AM and reached Royal Hut at about 10:30AM to begin our ascent of Stag Pass. This was protracted but wasn’t as bad as expected. It was windy at the top though so instead of walking the ridgeline as so many recommended we followed the Te Araroa trail down into the valley until we reached Camp Hut at around 3:00PM.
I think I initially came up with the idea to keep walking in order to cut down on the long walk to Tekapo but Silvan wholeheartedly joined in and before I knew it we were on the Two Thumbs track and had decided to keep going until Lilybank Road.
Two Thumbs track is amazing by the way. Over a terrace with mountains on one side and Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps on the other.
We reached Lilybank Road at roughly 9:00PM and set up camp before the light fled.