Te Araroa Trail – Richmond Ranges – Browning hut to Slaty hut
We woke early and left Browning hut at 7.15am this morning. The trail was excellent and pretty much downhill all the way to Hacket hut just a few Kms away. There were a few small stream crossings and one major river crossing. We reached Hacket hut around 8.15am.
When we got to Hacket hut I got a lovely surprise!! Blair poked his head into the hut to say hello to the occupants, and it turned out that one of them was Anouck who I had walked almost all the North Island with last season. She too had skipped the Richmonds last season and was finishing her TA on this trip. She had come Northbound from St Arnaud, and we spent a quick half an hour catching up on the past year, and the state of the trail ahead.
Hacket hut to Starveall hut
We left Hacket hut around 8.45am and continued on to Starveall hut. This stretch began with around 10 crossings of Hacket Creek. It hadn’t rained since yesterday, and someone at Hacket hut who had been monitoring the river level, told us it was already a foot lower than yesterday.
We enjoyed the river, even if it was a little slow going sometimes.
Next, we had a huge climb up to Starveall hut. We slowly plodded up around 900m (2950ft) in elevation over approx 5kms.
We stopped at the lookout at Pyramid Rock for a quick break. I complained my way up and grumbled about my heavy pack.
We reached Starveall hut at midday. It was beautiful. The sun had come out and the views across the Richmond ranges were incredible.
We could see the route we’d be taking this afternoon (more up!!) so ate a hearty lunch of a peanut butter wrap followed by a Nutella wrap for desert.
Starveall hut to Slaty hut
We left at 12.45pm and climbed the ridge out from around 1200m to around 1500m then did the same again over the next undulation.
The trail and terrain were fantastic. There were views across the ranges and across the Tasman coast as far as we could see. We saw plenty of goats on the tops.
We got to Slaty hut around 2.45pm and immediately got to work collecting firewood as the store was empty. After about an hour or so we went into the hut to relax. It had been a big day, and we’d climbed around 1500m (4900ft).
Tonight, we were joined by Flo, a young German guy. We christened him with his trailname “Bjorn Ironside” as he was the spitting image of the character from the ‘Vikings’ TV show. Annika and Malte, the German couple arrived a little later.
It was a little chilly. All the men tried unsuccessfully to get a fire going, but very successfully smoking out the hut. The wood was too wet and despite some very good efforts we couldn’t keep anything alight.
We had an early night, as we’d arranged to get up early tomorrow for sunrise over the mountains.