After a brilliant sunset last night we unfortunately had quite a disturbed night of sleep. Unsurprisingly there was a mouse or two in the hut and these came out right when we went to sleep (or when we attempted to at least). We could hear them scuttling all over the hut all night and just had to hope we’d hung our things well enough that they wouldn’t be able to get in anything. Turns out in the morning we found out that they were able to get in things. When our German friend woke up he saw a mouse on the pocket of his pack and when Heather and I got up a minute later we saw a mouse running around on the floor. We later found out that somehow it had chewed a whole in one of our bowls and chewed a hole in the bottom of our one of our Sawyer bags. This was all while the pack was hanging on hooks in the air and closed up completely so we’ve no idea how it managed to get in and get back out again. A few minutes later while getting dressed Heather was giving her pants a shake and a mouse came flying out of one leg. She was super happy to be putting them on right after but I assured her any little brown marks were probably just mud.
We were already pretty high up on the ridge but the day started with the summit of Mt. Crawford (1462m). This was the second summit we do in the Tararuas and previously John at the Outdoor Center pointed out that people often get trapped between the two peaks by extreme weather. It was thick cloud coverage and a decently high wind for us but nothing that would stop us getting up and over. The track was a lot of fun again and I really enjoyed the ridge even in the clouds. In a few of the photos below you can see our German friend in the background chasing Heather.
The track descended down off the ridgeline and into the forest. We had a steep 1,000m+ descent through here but it was spread out over a few k and ended up being not to bad. The forest got thick really quickly as usual but for most of the way down it was also the cool twisted mossy stuff we’ve enjoyed for the past few days in the Tararuas.
As we continued to descend we got back to normal non-moss covered trees and eventually hit a one person only swing bridge to cross the river at the bottom.
We continued on across the bridge another ten minutes and came across the Waitewaewae hut where we stopped for lunch. It was a really nice hut and had we had more time and food it seemed like it would’ve been a good spot to stay the night. We took a nice almost hour long lunch here in the sun before setting off again.
The second half of the day was much tougher as we headed towards Otaki forks. We had multiple stream crossings and a small climb to endure all back in the traditional New Zealand bush that Heather and I have grown to love so much.
We reached the top of the saddle and before beginning our descent came across a sign directing us to a side track as the main track had apparently washed away. The sign estimated 3 hours to the Otaki Forks hut via the new track which was about what we were expecting so we went for it. The track turned out to be pretty horrible and was a barely cut track siddling along the side of a mountain. It was tough going for about two hours and definitely slowed us down. We were definitely missing the luxurious Tararua ridgeline and forest.
From there things got easier as we dropped down onto an old logging tram line (we could even see the tram track in places which was cool). We followed this to another swing bridge and up and over a little hill to the next hut.
We’ll rest up here for the night and finish with a final mountain climb tomorrow before making it out to town.