Day 28: Royal Hut to Crooked Spur Hut

10% chance of rain. That’s what the garmin said about today. Early early this morning (or maybe late last night? Dunno) there was a sudden very large gust of wind that sounded like it was going to blow the roof off of the hut, and then the rain started. A couple of people had stuff outside, including a camouflage colored Trash Bag tent which had blown away but they found it, so there was a bit of mad dash to get everything inside. The rain kept up all through the morning, and so did the wind. It was hard at times to know if what I was hearing was wind or thunder, and I was a bit worried about being in a tin shed in the middle of an empty tussock field in a lightning storm. Fortunately it either wasn’t thunder or at least we didn’t have any nearby strikes.

Someone’s alarm went off early. They shut it off and went back to sleep. Nobody wanted to go out into the rain. Eventually we all started trickling out the door, I left around 9am and it was lightly sprinkling.

After almost exactly 2 hours (the same as the trail notes suggested) I arrived at Stone Hut. A guy was in there waiting for the rain, he wanted to cross the saddle on a clear day so he wasn’t in any hurry. He said he’d probably take off and head up to Royal Hut if the weather cleared up more but was otherwise content to just hang out in the hut all day. I told him I was envious as I walked back out into the rain.

At some point the rain stopped and the sun came out, which was a pleasant change.

After a bunch of river crossings and some meandering along, I finally got near the top of the day’s climb, up to “an unnamed saddle”. There was a pretty amazing view of what seemed like an entire valley of scree. Super glad that wasn’t my destination.

It was cool to look at, but I wouldn’t want to climb it. Instead I climbed a different scree slope.

It wasn’t too bad. Scree is annoying to walk up because like walking in sand you lose a lot of your distance with every step, and then of course the wind was getting pretty serious the farther up I went.

I made it to the top snapped a photo and headed down. After rounding a corner I was greeted with a view of the Rangitata River. The first of the 2 big rivers that cross the trail that aren’t officially part of it due to how dangerous they can be.

It looks really close! I had to tell myself that it’s something like 5-7km wide though. It looks close because it’s just huge. A while later I arrived at the hut and got settled for the evening, which has turned out pretty nice!

Most folks I’d talked to said the Rangitata was fordable and had done it. Most had said that the next one, the Rakaia, was not, that they had heard of someone who did it but was basically swimming across at points. I won’t be fording either. One of the southbounders I talked to at the hut last night said to contact Alps2Ocean, that they had reasonable prices and excellent service. I dropped them an email and they’ll be picking me and a French guy who was walking this section about 6pm, so since tomorrow is a pretty short day time wise we’ll get to sleep in a bit before heading down to our ride. I’ll be spending tomorrow night in Geraldine. An unplanned town stop but I hope to make it back to the trail early the next day to get started on the next section. This section is already a full day longer than I originally planned, and I’d rather not have to spend the next day just getting back out to the trail. We’ll see though!

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