We got up early after a great night’s sleep in the van and got ready to get back on track and into the mountains. John had given us a fairly detailed run down of what to expect and even recommended taking a different approach track to the hut than the official route. He said the track that that went over was pretty destroyed and the trust would likely reroute it anyway. He was a bit of a bush expert for the area so we took him up on his suggestion. They made us a coffee and we ate a large breakfast of scones and pastries (we’d picked this up in town) and started the 5k walk to the start of the track.
There was really low cloud coverage and not long into our trip we had to put rain gear on. Surprisingly it was quite hot out as well so we were wet from rain or sweat. The track started out right in forest along side (but quite a bit above) a river and was very typical New Zealand track. We felt like we were moving quite quickly but apparently it’s still only the DOC posted times. Interestingly they use times instead of distances in the ranges given the steep and hard terrain. We crossed over a swing bridge and came to the start of our track which would take us up onto the ridges.
The track was steep, we were going from around 200m to nearly 1,000m over the course of about 5km. We immediately began climbing and even when it tapered off it was still uphill. The track was nothing we weren’t used to and it felt good to be climbing and like we were making good time. We stopped for lunch about two thirds of the way up and enjoyed the loaf of tiger bread (NZ for dutch crunch) we’d purchased yesterday.
Breaking out onto Gables ridge we had the typical cloudy view we’ve been used too.
We hit the end of Gables Ridge and rejoined up with the official TA track and about 2 hours left to the hut. This two hours included a decent back below 700m with a climb back up to 1,000m.
We finished in pretty much spot on two hours and arrived at the hut to find one additional hiker, a German guy called David. It’s an 18 person hut so there’s plenty of room for us. After dinner the clouds cleared off and we had really good views of a good portion of ridge and up what we’ll be hiking tomorrow. It was nice to be able to have a view of what we’re actually hiking. Hopefully it’ll stay clear for tomorrow.