Day 19: Wanaka to Lake Hawea

Today was a short day. The trail was part road walk but mostly gravel bike trail all the way. We coasted along the edge of the lake for a while, taking in some magnificent views before heading inland along a river.

After a good while along the river we came across a campground and hung out there for a bit, having a snack, using the facilities, refilling water and getting the packs off. Then it was on down the trail to a big swing bridge to cross the river again and we were back on the bike trail.

A while later, the most perfect timing ever happened. For some reason we had a whole lot of people wearing matching hi viz vests biking through an intersection ahead, which caught our attention, and then this happened.

I’m certain the events are totally unrelated, but the timing of us crossing this road at the exact same time this … house was crossing the bridge… pretty cool.

Some more walking happened. Somehow I managed to keep up with Keaton, one of the fastest of our party, the entire trail. I don’t feel like he was holding back on account of me either. He was definitely holding back but only because he was saving up for the huge climb I’d be doing tomorrow that he was doing today. Huge climb. I joked at one point that if I felt good and the time seemed ok I might try to do it too, but I got here and didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t. I would have made it, eventually. But I would not have been a happy camper. And most likely a camper is what I would be. People we spoke to said the hut was full with people camping outside last night. I have a feeling this is going to be more and more common going forward, we’re running into the bulk of the sobos.

The river we were walking past for this stretch has a whitewater park. This is a place for kayakers to practice their skills and have some fun. They shaped the river such that it creates a standing wave that allows a kayaker to “surf” in the pocket where the water is coming down and not move. This also enables spin moves, apparently. The sign board said all this. Keaton just used it like a water slide.

Anywho. This lake is real pretty. Here are some pictures of the lake.

Right past this, Keaton and I said our goodbyes. He went up the hill, and I went to the bar. Literally. This hotel is mostly bar, a few rooms, some dorms, and a huge campsite. The nicest campsite we’ve had this whole time, aside from Mahuru Cottage of course, and cheap, only $12, with hot showers and laundry facilities. And a bar. If you’re into that sort of thing. We had pizza and some pretty good fries.

Tomorrow is the big climb. I’m worried. My shoes are starting to show some serious signs of wear, I may have to break out the duct tape soon. The new arch supports seem to be doing the trick but my legs are a bit sore. Tomorrow is like 900m of climb, with very little in the way of flat and zero shade at all. Mountain start, mountain finish, mountain in between. Trail notes say 6-7 hours. Oof.

Goan-Marco is also here for the night but he’ll probably drop me on the way up the hill and he’s going to push on to the next hut. Frank had another rest day scheduled but went to the doctor today about his knee and is out for a week. Marius took an alternate route north. It’s going to be back to just me tomorrow night! It feels weird, but was inevitable. Super happy to have met and spent so much time with these folks. Looking forward to the next spontaneous friend group!

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