Te Araroa Trail Day 81. Middy hut 1866.3kms – Rocks hut 1871.1kms

Te Araroa Trail Middy hut to Rocks hut

I woke at 5.45am after a lovely sleep in the tent. While I made my breakfast the snorer was still snoring so loudly that I could hear him outside the hut… I sooooo made the right decision to sleep outdoors, despite having to pack a wet tent!!

Second thoughts about the Richmond Ranges

I chatted to Michael and Tiba over breakfast about our journeys, and about a warning which was posted by DOC at Pelorous Bridge about the state of the track a few days ahead. It said that the track had degraded due to erosion pretty badly over the past 18 months and that there were very few footholds between large rocks and narrow ledges on one of the highest parts of the crossing.

The official Te Araroa trail notes also read that this area, shouldn’t be attempted in bad weather. I checked the weather a few days ago, and we’re in for rain over the coming few days.. hmmm…

Te Araroa Trail Day 81 - Middy to Rocks hut
Te Araroa Trail Day 81 – Middy to Rocks hut

Towards Rocks hut

Today’s trail started with a 5km climb up 800m to Rocks hut in the Mount Richmond Forest Park. I was slow, and it was raining lightly, but far too humid for a raincoat. Everything underfoot was slippery – rocks, tree roots, and leaves, and I took lots of micro-breaks. Along the way I met Ella and Chris, a couple of Kiwis walking Te Araroa trail Northbound.

I asked them about the Richmond alpine stretch I was just about to enter. They hadn’t walked its entire length but had met a few who had, who’s opinions varied between ‘a lovely crossing’ to ‘the scariest thing I’ve ever done’. I suppose it depends on experience, weather conditions, what you’re carrying, what you think about DOC’s advice re.the state of the track and the risks you’re prepared to take.

Second thoughts… again

I got to Rocks hut and went through the trail notes – again having doubts. This was a high alpine area, with numerous risky exposed sections, and there was bad weather coming in. I had enough food to sit in the huts and wait out the bad weather, but something didn’t feel quite right.

As much as it pained me, I decided to bypass this section for now, having reached my limit of risk verses reward. This is apparently one of the most difficult but best bits of Te Araroa trail for spectacular terrain and views, but if it’s bad weather there aren’t any views to be had. In addition I didn’t want to be climbing and slipping over the extremely high, scary, dangerous bits with a heavy pack and few footholds.

I decided to skip this section for now.

Te Araroa Trail Day 81 - Views to the Richmond Ranges
Te Araroa Trail Day 81 – Views to the Richmond Ranges

A day at Rocks hut

I had a lovely day to myself in Rock hut justifying my decision. Boris had lit a fire, so I dried out my wet tent, and ate a lot. In the evening a lovely family arrived – mum, dad and 3 awesome kids from Nelson.

After dinner the clouds cleared and I went up to the lookout and got some lovely views over the Richmond ranges. I’ll head out to Nelson tomorrow.

The Richmond Ranges Alpine Crossing

I completed the Richmond ranges alpine section the following year:

 

 

 

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