Day 71 – Back in the Saddle (again and again and again)

No mice in the hut the last night! It was a pretty cold night and morning but we both slept well given the lack of disturbances. It was cold but nice to wake up dry at least as well. We all got up around 7am as usual (hut times are generally sun up to sun down, for everybody) and after using the flush toilet and trying in vain to warm our still damp socks got going around 8:45. The track continued along the ridgeline for a ways and crossed over areas where a lot of trees were down. It looked like some of this might’ve been intentional but they were pretty all over the place as well. We did find two logs cut nicely for seats which we stopped at for our first snack break of the day.

We continued on descending down into a saddle and eventually to the first hut for the day. We only stopped briefly at this hut, there was another guy there who forecast some rain coming our way for later in the day.

We continued on another hour to the next hut for lunch. Unfortunately in getting to this hut we had to cross some streams and get our feet wet. The river was an incredible blue but also freezing cold, it was not warm enough for a quick dip.

We met two ladies on their way out from an overnight hike at lunch and they were kind enough to take our trash and give us some extra food they hadn’t used, including a tuna packet, some cheese, and crackers! The track after lunch was officially in the Richmond Ranges and we had a good 900m climb over 5km with a bunch of stream crossings first. It was a really tough but steady climb and we made it in 3 hours instead of the estimated 4. Somehow the South island has just become faster for us.

There was a nice little hut at the top where we took a quick break but decided to push on. It was only listed as 2 & 1/2 hours to the next hut and we thought we could do that in less. We also wanted to get ahead on the huts before the rain started as we knew we were racing that at this point. We did get a few drops of rain so we put on our rain gear before setting off.

It was a stunning hike with incredible views. The Richmond’s definitely have a feeling of isolation and serenity we didn’t get on the North Island. We descended slightly into bush and then climbed up and around a peak to another hut. Smoke was already coming from the chimney when we arrived and there’s another girl in here heading North who’d started a fire. She also shared some chocolate with us so she’s forever in our good books. The rain started pretty quickly after we arrived and is coming down reasonably heavy. We’ll see how things are in the morning and if it’s going to move on or not.

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