We woke up today at 6.15am. It was really cold this morning!! We enjoyed a sachet of mocha coffee with breakfast which I added a huge spoonful of Nutella to. Having put on our wet shoes and socks from yesterday we all got on trail at 7.20am and immediately got stuck into the first of around 40 river crossings upstream into Round Hill Creek.
Having done just three of these crossings our legs and feet became so numb with cold that we couldn’t feel them any more. It was a stinging cold that just didn’t let up – added to this was the large sharp stones underfoot, the gravel filling our shoes, the swift river, and on the banks the speargrass and the thorny bushes we had to charge through, which scratched our freezing legs. The river was pretty high in some places, and my shorts were soaked after about half an hour. We were very, very cold!
It was really slow going. In the first hour we’d only managed to walk 2.2kms, and in the second hour around 3kms before we were able to stay on the left bank. We had a quick break near the river at around 10am, then started to climb up. At no other time have we been so happy to climb up to a saddle between the mountains! Our feet thawed out and we got warmed by the little hint of sun which was trying to come through the clouds. By 11am (longest morning ever) we’d reached the top of Clent Saddle 1480m. Bizzarely there were a couple of deck chairs up there – we took the appropriate photos.
The clouds lingered all day. We missed some pretty spectacular scenery as we walked through the mountains, but we did get the the odd glimpse though the mist every now and again. We stopped for a well deserved lunch at midday.
We reached Double hut at 1.45pm, and walked on to Manuka hut by 3pm. At the last minute we decided to push on to Lake Emily and camp there, as we figured there would be heaps of people at the small Manuka hut. About an hour out of Manuka hut, we climbed a small hill, checked our phones (on the offchance) and amazingly Mike had cellphone coverage!!
We’d originally arranged for Mike’s friend Chris to pick us up and take us around the Rangitata in a couple of days time, but Mike flicked him a quick message, and amazingly he was able to come and pick us up in about an hour’s time!! Legend! Our really hard day instantly became a magnificent day! We walked for another hour down to the road and sat down to have a quick break. Chris and his mate turned up about 10 minutes later.
I can’t even tell you how pleased were! The Rangitata river is far too big to cross, and TA trail stops at one bank and begins at the other – 5kms distant. However the drive around to cross it is over 100kms. Add to this the fact that you’re literally in the middle of nowhere, it’s a very difficult part of TA to negotiate. We checked the trail notes & saw that the Mesopotamia Station was close to the start of the trail on the other side of the river. We called them to let them know we’d be there in an hour or so.
When we arrived around 7.30pm Sue had a cottage available for us. We said our goodbyes to Chris – truly amazed again by his kindness and generosity in helping us out.
Our home for the night was a beautiful old house with a lovely hot shower and huge fireplace in the lounge. We couldn’t believe our luck!! We unpacked, got a huge fire going in the lounge, had showers, ate hearty dinners and enjoyed our hot drinks! We spent the rest of the evening chatting by the fire wondering what we’d done to deserve such good fortune!! Our day couldn’t have ended any better.