And I almost didn’t make it!
This morning, woke up, lovely weather, myself and a French guy doing a section of the TA were set to catch our 6-7pm shuttle from the carpark down the trail to Geraldine. Since the carpark was said to be 4 hours away, no rush! Sleep in, hang out at the hut, read. Probably nothing to do at the carpark anyways so may as well stay in the shade at the hut.
About noon a couple of folks headed southbound arrive at the hut just as we’re packing up to leave. We chat with them and tell them about our shuttle and they asked if it was the Alps2Ocean shuttle. They’d come in on one last night, late. Hmmmmmmm.
So I finish packing up and head out and on the way I quickly “type” up a message to the shuttle service to confirm our booking. No worries. I keep rolling down the trail. It’s a really pretty trail today, but lots of river crossings and this river is feeling pretty frisky today, probably as a result of the rain the other night. Water mid hip at times and running pretty fast.
Eventually I check the garmin to see if I have a reply. “Nope, that was last night. Best I can do is 9am Monday”. Ugh. So we no longer have a ride. And this carpark is in the middle of freaking nowhere on a road that nobody drives down, so hitching is probably not going to happen and no cel service so finding an alternative hard.
What’s worse is last night at the hut there was a hunter up for the night who was parked at said carpark. We’d seen him off hours prior. Had we not been expecting the shuttle we could have left earlier and almost certainly gotten a ride with him.
So we get to the carpark. There’s one car. I’m 80% certain it’s our hunter. But always one to hedge a bet I pop off an email to the Geraldine info center asking if they have any ideas, and Alps2Ocean had told us about Mesopotamia Station having accomodations, so since that’s directly on the way out from the carpark we start walking to see what we can find at the station.
Well. Not a whole lot. There are a good number of buildings but nothing that even looks like a house. I know the station is just a farm so I’m not exactly looking for the lobby but even a car in a driveway would be something. I don’t have a contact for them so I can’t message them, so it’s hopefully walk up service. We don’t want to venture far from the road either in case our hunter comes past or really anyone else at all.
We give up on the station and hang out by the entrance to the car park. There’s a big v shaped snow plow blade that offers us shade and shelter from the extreme winds. After a bit a couple of farm vehicles go by, but we decide not to flag them down as they probably wouldn’t take us to town. Eventually, a car rolls up! Not our hunter, but we’ll try anyways. Boom, thumbs work. The guy is also a hunter coming back from a different place. His vehicle only has the 2 seats so the French guy, being skinny, hops on the center console and I squish in next to him. Not the most comfortable seating arrangement for either of us, plus I can’t get a seatbelt on like this so every time we round a corner on the gravel or crest a blind hill I’m gripping for dear life. Not that the guy drives bad or anything, I just know how squirrelly a car can get in gravel. I used to be a teenager in Iowa, remember!
Hour and a half later and we arrive in Geraldine. We even get rock star service right up to the holiday park in the center of town. Sweet as. And the holiday park is nice! Nicest one yet I’d say!
As we walk into town to get burgers at the local diner I’m reminded that I’ve been through this town before. I drove through last year on my trip from Greymouth back to Christchurch by car. I distinctly remember the little hotel downtown I wanted to stay in but they were full up. This is a great little town.
Now, sadly, it’s only been 4 days since my last zero day. Geraldine wasn’t even a planned overnight, but the shuttle idea was too good (and only failed because of a miscommunication, I hear Alps2Ocean is solid, usually), so it became one. On the forecast though we have a Tropical Cyclone Gita bearing down on us.
And the next section has 2 flavors: “water is scarce during dry season” and “The track follows beside and through this river and therefore should be attempted only when conditions allow safe passage”, which means it’ll be days before I’m able to traverse this section. A section that’s only 2.5 days long and actually quite the logistical nightmare to get into and out of, being nearly as remote as the section I just completed. So….. I’ve been contemplating skipping it for the past several days anyways, now I have an excuse.
Tomorrow I’ll wander down to the i-Site and see if I can figure out a way to get to Methven where my spare shoes socks and underwear are. And then I’ll try to go there. Once I’m there I’ll probably take a day off or 2 to wait out the storm, send off a resupply box to Arthur’s Pass, resupply to get me there and head out from there.
Meanwhile, Geraldine is a lovely little town!