Day 79 – The Climb

Another no mice hut so a good night’s sleep. Turns out it was pretty good that we slept well as today’s climb was the most intense we’ve done so far. Today was also by far the most stunning scenery we’ve seen on the trail and a top day for both of us.

We started out in near freezing cold hiking up to Lake Constance. It was a short hop up to the start of the lake but very windy and the sun had not yet hit us.

The views were already incredible and we were lucky to have plenty of clear blue sky above us. Although we couldn’t see the pass we could see that the wind was blowing the clouds off. From the lake we started a large scree ascent and continued up and down alongside the lake on fairly steep terrain.

It was an absolutely stunning view already and the hiking was amazing. The wind was also really intense and it was cold enough that I was unable to open my snack bar with my hands. Heather started suggesting I might be starting to get hypothermic at this point as I was saying funny things so we both stopped and put on our down jackets. This is the first time so far we’ve ever hiked in our down jackets.

After passing the lake we finally hit the start of the climb to Waiau Pass. It was about 450m up over a very short distance and took about an hour of scree climbing straight up to the top. This was very intense climbing on a very sharp angle and for a lot of parts it’d be a few steps up and then sliding back down in the scree. We did eventually make it up to the top where we paused for a long lunch and to take in some of the best views of the trail.

The climb down was equally steep but instead of scree it had been replaced with boulders. We spent another few hours descending slowly going hand over hand down the cliff face and eventually linking up with the river at the bottom.

The last 8km to the hut continued along next to the river. This was largely either on really nice soft pathway or over very sharp boulder fields.

Eventually we started to hit more open grasslands and the valley opened up. After a few stream crossings we reached the hut and found that there were only two bunks left. We were very thankful for the two remaining bunks as the sandflies outside were the worst they’d ever been and we spent the remainder of our time huddled inside the hut hanging out with the other four occupants (all NoBo’s).

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