I woke at around 6.45am this morning and Mike, Phil and I had a quiet breakfast while the hunters still slept. I didn’t have a great sleep last night – I had a mouse visit at midnight, chewing through my toilet roll bag! Everything else was in a dry bag hung up over the edge of the bunks. Also my bed wasn’t on a wooden platform, but on a fabric sling of sorts, so I was sleeping in a bit of a dip. We debated the weather again over breakfast.
It was raining pretty steadily, but according to the weather from a few days ago it would be steady, then come in heavily in the afternoon.
We left at 7.40am and as per the past few days the trail took us through beech forest and valley floor. Again there were numerous stream crossings.
At one point we crossed the river using a ‘walkwire’ – 3 pieces of wire, one for walking over and two for support/balance either side, which was pretty cool. We got to Cameron’s hut (a little 4 bunk hut) about an hour later.
A young French couple we’d met yesterday at lunch, were camping in the rain rather than sleeping in the hut.. Which we thought a bit odd.
We continued, and the track went up into a bit of a gorge as we headed into the headwaters of the Hurunui river. There were a couple of places where the track had been completely washed away, resulting in sheer drops with loose dirt and scree underfoot, and Phil and I struggled a little with climbing down, up and over that section. We reached Harper’s bivouac at around 10.15am – a gorgeous wee 2 bed bivvy.
From there the path started to climb over the Harper’s pass. It was only around 200m more elevation over a couple of kms and several more river crossings before we got to the pass. At the pass we crossed the ‘main divide’ – the point at which rivers flow to the East or West. We had just crossed to the West.
Had it been sunny I imagine the views would have been wonderful. As it was, we couldn’t see a lot at all as it was so cloudy. The trail descended through a really steep, slippery, rocky little gully for a few kms before we crossed a swingbridge over the Taramakau river. From there we followed the river valley through forest again, then as the valley floor widened, there were a couple of enormous slips to negotiate, where we had to walk in the river bed. We’d started to notice the river level slowly rising, and thanked our lucky stars that we’d made it this far without the really heavy rain coming in.
At 12.30pm we reached the 18 bed Locke Stream hut – a beauty! Built in 1941 using native timber. One of my favourites so far. As amazing luck would have it, there was even a toilet roll in the loo! We were all freezing and completely soaked through by the time we got to the hut. We got out of our wet clothes and made ourselves a hot drink & had lunch. Then the weather came in. The remenants of cyclone Gita was well & truly here!. It got really cold, so I sat in my sleeping bag to stay warm, again wishing I hadn’t sent my puffa jacket home a few weeks ago. The rain began really lashing down outside, and we hoped the French couple had stayed where they were and weren’t out in it.
There was no firewood in the hut except for a few twigs and an enormous tree bough in the fireplace. The boys set about chopping bits of the huge thick bough to get smaller pieces to burn. They managed to get a fire going, but with the size of the enormous log we didn’t get a roaring fire, but enough to produce a little heat.
The fire lasted about 2 hours. I sat in my sleeping bag all evening, and we played lots of cards. After dinner we watched a movie on my phone, and watched the very bold mice run all around the hut (one ran up Mike’s leg!). We went to bed around 10pm.