Today was supposed to be easy. Long stretch through tussock followed by a steep climb followed by a gravel road walk followed by sticking my thumb out and hoping for the best.
Well. It was a long walk through tussock. But the steep climb was more of a compete and utter disaster of a trail section. Lots of up and down. And I thought the climb up to Martin’s Hut was technical, this was insanity. Lots of sidling across what felt like cliffs. Brushing past trees that I had to lean into to push past them so they wouldn’t throw me off the trail and to the ravine below. Just when you thought were done another huge down and up, with something even crazier than the last thrown in.
I literally had to go THROUGH this tree. Under it was the “official trail” but I didn’t see any way of doing it without dying so I came up through the tree. This was the craziest single thing of the day, but not by much.
The sunrise from the hut was fantastic though.
I’m learning more and more not to get complacent. The day isn’t done until I’m standing in front of the hut or at the campsite or wherever I am. On this day, I finally created the hill that I thought would be the top of the climb, and honestly the descent was 10x harder. Climbing is physically difficult but descending is harder because it’s so much harder to get your feet on a steep descent than a steep climb. Add to that sections of overgrowth grabbing at my poles, long descents on slippery surfaces, huge mud holes, lots of stream crossings. It was an intense day.
Fortunately, it did finally come to an end. The trail flattened out, got wider and easier to walk, and I knew for sure the hard stuff was done when I crossed an actual bridge over a creek. I stopped into Lower Princhester Hut briefly to sign into the logbook and kept on rolling. One of the best sheep wave encounters of the trip so far, I really wish I had video, it was so good.
Got to the end of the gravel road, quickly changed from horrifying clothing to slightly less horrifying clothing, walked out to the highway, stuck out my thumb and got a bite after 3 cars! A Czech couple from Ontario on holiday stopped and gave me a ride. Either they have no sense of smell or my clothes change helped because they didn’t even crack a window. AC and nice conversation all the way to Te Anau. They pulled into their hotel and I hopped out thinking I’d walk the rest of the way to wherever I was going to end up staying. As it turns out, they were a day early and had another place booked for tonight so they offered to take me the rest of the way into town. I found Kiwi Holiday Park, got an ensuite room for 2 nights and went to get some food. Fish and chips. Aw yiss.
Took a great shower, threw my clothes in the wash, and got ahold of some folks I’d met on the trail before who were a few days ahead of me but took an extra day in Te Anau. We got venison burgers and they were amazing.
Now I’m just hanging out in my room watching trashy tv, uploading blog posts and getting ready for bed.
I only quit twice today. This is my new metric for how well I feel like I’m doing on the trail. Today was incredibly incredibly hard. Like way hard. And I survived it. I think I’ll survive the rest of the trail. I’ll see how I feel when I get to Queenstown in a week!
Tomorrow is a zero day. Need to grocery shop for the next stretch, 5 days. Need to figure out what my Queenstown plan is. Want to check out some stuff in town. Should be good. And this hotel is exactly what I was looking for in Nightcaps, so I’m enjoying it thoroughly and not expecting to have to involve any police tonight!
Also, today being day 10, this is officially the longest backpacking trip I’ve ever done. And definitely the hardest. Japan was cake compared to some of the trail I’ve seen so far. Starting to enjoy myself a bit though!