Day 33: Arthur’s Pass to Locke Stream hut

Another northbounder named Greg was at the hostel with me for the past couple of days. This morning we left and stood out by the road hoping to get a ride for a bit. Finally we got one, from a guy who was driving from Christchurch to Greymouth for a meeting! Eek!

We knew our first task on the trail today was going to be to cross the Otira River. We also knew that it was probably still going to be fairly high due to the rain from the past few days. And boy, was it. We crossed, and where we crossed didn’t look so bad, but very clear water has a tendency to be deceptively deep, and this was. About half way across it was over my waist and while I was able to get secure footing, it was tough going, and there were a couple of times I had to stop and rest, waist deep in fast flowing water. Greg got some pictures of me but I don’t have them yet. Hopefully he’ll send them to me later, as I’d be very curious to see what I looked like.

Knowing we had the worst crossing of the day over with, we ambled along. At one point a group of southbounders came up and we traded info about the river crossings. We still had 2 major ones ahead of us, and potentially quite a few more minor ones, so we wanted to get an idea of conditions. When I said the water was waist deep one joked that that wasn’t very deep. I dunno. Felt pretty damn deep to me! One other thing they mentioned was that they’d crossed below the confluence of the Taramakau and Otehake rivers, which were our next major crossings. The notes mention that in high water it might be safer to cross one, then the other, but these folks did it in one go.

So did we. But it too was fairly sketchy. Another place where the river forks and there’s a huge bar, but it wasn’t too terrible so we tried crossing all in one go. Greg made it. I was further upstream from him and hit some really deep water, nearly lost my footing and decided to go back to the bar. Since the bar was behind me I walked backward downstream for a while and ended up crossing the rest of the way in knee deep water. Much better.

Not much farther up the trail we got to the turnoff for Kiwi hut. It was a bit off of the track so we didn’t go up there, but there was a nice sitting log under some trees we stopped and took a break at. I ended up staying a bit longer and told Greg not to wait up for me. He was thinking about going up to Harper Pass bivvy so I knew he needed more time than I did. I was definitely feeling the extra weight of the food in my pack and the trail after being off for 5 of the last 8 days.

A while later I passed another group and they passed a message that Greg wasn’t stopping, bummer! Oh well.

More time later I arrive at the hut. It’s pretty nice. 18 bunks, all triple decker in 2 big bedrooms separate from the kitchen. Apparently has quite the rat problem. I can attest to that, I hear them running around. Eek.

So far though I have the place to myself. I’m starting to wonder if I might actually be past the bulk of the southbounders. Especially now that I’ve skipped ahead about 5 days of trail. That could be nice, better chances of having a bed in huts. It also means that right now I think the closest person to me is something like 10km. Pretty sure this is the farthest I’ve ever been from another person!

Didn’t get a lot of pictures today because they don’t do the difficulty of river crossings justice and there really wasn’t that much to see anyways.

Pretty sure that’s Harper pass in the distance. It seems so close, but it actually like 400m higher than where I am, so it’s actually pretty far. Probably another 3 or 4 hours tomorrow!

For now, just hanging out with my new rat friends!

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