February 22, 2018
START: Boyle Village @ 1700
FINISH: Hope Halfway Hut @ 2045
DISTANCE: 18.5 km
CUMULATIVE: 589.5 km
Broke down and paid for the shuttle back up to Boyle Village. Just didn’t wanna deal with trying to hitch out of a city, and it looked to be like a 15 k walk to the edge of town where I might catch a ride. Ah well, I was just happy to be getting back out here. Picked up my resupply box from the Boyle Outdoor Ed Center, and off I went.
The Boyle River looked to me like it was still running high, so I walked the road and kept an eye out for a safe spot to ford it. Tried a few places that looked promising from above, but not so much when I got down to the river bank. The water was moving swiftly and obviously rolling over large obstacles beneath the surface. Guess I’m a little gun shy after ruining my camera last week. One replacement is already one too many.
Arrived at the Hope Halfway Hut to find just three pairs of shoes outside, and I thought how lucky I was that there would be space for me despite arriving at nearly 2100 to a 6-bunk hut. Then I opened the door to find ten people crammed inside. Whoa. There were five TA hikers, two of whom I recognized. And a group of five older weekend warriors. The latter were planning to sleep on mattresses on the floor, because the only other bunk that was left was a top bunk, which they offered me. I gratefully accepted after making sure that they were getting their preference. I was the last to arrive, so I get whatever’s left. Dems da rulz, y’all. They assured me they just wanted the mattress, so I happily threw my thermarest up top and climbed the ladder.
I packed out a Subway sandwich for dinner tonight, because I didn’t know how late I’d get in, and I figured that would help streamline my evening routine. I damn near swallowed the thing whole and went to bed. Ready to crush some kilometres tomorrow. And if I can get in early enough to Arthur’s Pass, I’d love to do at least a day hike up in the Three Passes area before the weather roles in on Monday/Tuesday. Or better yet, I hope the forecast just clears up and I can do the whole thing as planned.
February 23, 2018
START: Hope Halfway Hut @ 0630
FINISH: Hurunui #3 @ 1620
DISTANCE: 34 km
CUMULATIVE: 623.5 km
Up and at’em. It was a quarter to six, so I brought my gear outside as quietly as I could and packed up. I actually don’t think I disturbed anyone, which is a miracle. I hate leaving before others are up, because it’s nice to at least say bye, but I was out for distance today, or at least I thought I was, so I bolted outta there before anyone else even stirred.
By far the worst part every morning, besides getting up initially, is putting on ice cold shoes and socks that are still wet from the day before, so of course it’s the last thing I do. Then I hike as hard as I can for the first hour to keep the blood circulating in my toes. I probably cover more distance in that first sixty minutes than any other subsequent hour all day long. Then the sun finally comes up and dial back the pace to something more sustainable.
I was happy to catch up with Elizabeth and McKenzie this morning, and I decided I’d rather spend the day with them than jet ahead to Locke Stream Hut as I’d originally planned. Turned out to be a great decision. We stopped and had a soak in some naturally hot pools near Huranui No. 3 Hut before getting run off by the sandflies. Arrived at the hut before 1630, so it was a much shorter day than I typically walk. Rob was waiting for us when we arrived, so I got to know all three of them a little better. It was really nice to just relax for a few hours with some great company rather than roll directly into my evening routine.
Planning to hike a long 50 k’s with Rob tomorrow, and I’m sure he’ll shred me, but I’m excited anyways. Stoked to push myself more, and also to spend the night up at Goat Pass Hut. Supposed to be a wicked spot. Arthur’s Pass Sunday morning, and hopefully the Three Pass Route from there.
February 24, 2018
START: Hurunui #3 @ 0720
FINISH: Goat Pass Hut @ 2040
DISTANCE: 50.5 km
CUMULATIVE: 674 km
Shredded most of the day with Rob. We left about an hour and half later than I would’ve if I was shooting to make the 50 k distance on my own. That was fine by me, because I was happy to have the company, and I don’t mind later nights. He was figuring about twelve hours, and I was thinking closer to fourteen for me, including time to mosey and take photos through nicer sections. Ended up hiking hard to keep pace with him for the first 38 of 50 kilometres, then we hit the bottom of Deception Valley and the start of the climb up to Goat Pass. That’s where I decided that I wanted to try to get some photos to capture the day. He was totally willing to wait, but I know he likes to get in early, so I shewed him off. When he hears what time I arrived tonight, I’m sure he’ll be glad I did.
It had been overcast all day long, and that persisted through the final climb to Goat Pass Hut. Too bad. I was really hoping for cool shots of this area. Met loads of NOBOs today, and one reported that the weather is supposed to be coming in as early as tomorrow. I noticed it really building as I neared the hut, and I can hear the wind blowing outside now. Guess I’ll be shredding the last ten k’s in the morning. Feeling annoyed that I may need to skip the Three Pass Route, and I’m already entertaining the idea of coming back to do it if I finish TA early enough and the conditions are favorable. The weather is really cramping my style lately, but that’s New Zealand for ya. Gotta keep on keepin’ on and capture what I can.
Ran into Door Mouse and Dirt Stew on the trail this afternoon. I met them very briefly on the PCT back in 2014. They were heading southbound, and I crossed their paths on the Eagle Creek alternate as I was heading north into Cascade Locks. Pretty cool to run into them again on the other side of the world and once more going opposite directions. We didn’t talk too long, since Rob and I were looking to move along with our big day, but I was happy to hear that they’re enjoying their trek. I wonder if they’re still blogging. I’ll have to look them up.
So many river crossings and endless boulder jumping today. My feet were perpetually wet and cold. Woulda been a great day to have some sun, but oh well. After coming over Harper Pass, it was a steep descent to the river valley followed by a tedious walk down the riverbed to a road. We walked about five kilometres on the road to save our legs for the big climb up Deception. I was stoked to get out of the riverbed and have some easy walking. There are definite advantages to road walks. Of course Rob practically ran it, and I trotted along behind trying to keep up without looking like I was busting my butt to do it.
We reached the bottom of Deception Valley, and urged to go ahead up to the hut while I stayed back to capture some photos. Really didn’t get anything inspiring. I imagine this place is amazing, but the clouds didn’t let me see it. Such a frustrating theme these last six weeks.
Arrived at the Goat Pass Hut just before 2030 and found everyone already in bed. I was definitely getting in late, but I was surprised to be alone in the main room creeping around trying to cook dinner and critter-proof my pack. It wasn’t even Hiker Midnight yet. Finally got to bed a little after 2200. What a long freakin’ day. It was awesome. Gonna get up early and walk hard to try and beat the rain into Arthur’s Pass tomorrow.
February 25, 2018
START: Goat Pass Hut @ 0815
FINISH: Klondyke TH @ 1045
DISTANCE: 9.5 km
CUMULATIVE: 683.5 km
My alarm went off at 0600 this morning. I could hear the rain falling steadily against the roof outside, and no else had stirred, so I re-set it for 0630 and rolled over. My alarm went off again, and this time I heard a few hikers rustling in the main room, so I wiggles out of my sleeping bag and slowly started my day. It was still raining and windy outside, so I was in no particular hurry to get going. Took my time with breakfast and packup, then sat and watched the rain falling. I absolutely did not wanna go out there. In fact, I’m pretty sure I said exactly that to Rob: “Dude. I don’t wanna go out there.” He stared back at me and nodded in agreement. “Shit weather today, eh.” I just watched and watched before I finally willed myself out the door around a quarter passed eight. Figured the k’s weren’t gonna walk themselves, so off I went. Rob was right behind and passed me as we neared the Mingha Bivvy.
After cruising across the Goat Pass boardwalk, the steep descent and valley walk to the road only took a few hours. Caught a hitch within ten minutes of arriving and was in Arthur’s Pass around 1100. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone ahead and done the 9.5 k road walk away from Arthur’s Pass, then hitched back from the next trailhead. The weather was fine enough earlier. Woulda been nice to save the time heading out tomorrow, but the thought never even crossed my mind. Oh well, lesson learned.
I arrived in town and headed straight for the cafe where I found FAFBAB and The Man hunkered down. They’d heard the gnarly weather report and hitched into town last night rather than attempt Goat Pass. Prudent decision, I think. And selfishly, I was glad they had, because I was excited to see them. The weather started getting especially nasty this evening, so we’re hunkered down in the Sanctuary drinking wine and beer after a full day spent eating and lounging at the local cafe. Definitely spent way too much money here, but it’s been worth it. #roughlife. The weather is supposed to persist into tomorrow morning, so I’ll hang around until noon-ish, then hitch back to where I got off trail and carry on. The next 70k to the Rakaia should be quick, then a little 34 k road walk will bring me to the road bridge. From there, I’ll hitch into Methven for some town chores and a (hopefully) quick turn around back toward TA. Since starting on Feb 9, I’ve been getting caught in towns for various reasons more frequently than I’d anticipated. I don’t recall this happening as much on the PCT, though I remember a few specific occasions, most notably the phone fiasco in Wrightwood. God, that sucked. I’m so ready to crush some k’s. All that said, I could focus on the silver lining. I’m definitely grateful that I’ve had shelter and amenities for the storms. Guess I can complain about anything. Reframe and move on.