We passed above 1,000m for the last time today. It’s not really all downhill now, we have plenty of climbs left, but they’re all less than the 1,000m we did today. Surprisingly there was no mice issues last night. We heard a few crawling around but if anything it sounded like they were just trying to get close to the fire. We ended up heading out later than planned as it was absolutely freezing out. Right before we went to set off it started to snow really hard as well. This did blow over quickly but we were expecting more to come later.
The trail started out heading over a swing bridge across the Aparima river. From there we turned onto marsh and spent a few kms heading towards the bushline.
Once in the bush (and with our feet freshly wet and cold) the track became much nicer and was pretty gentle from here. There were some boggy patches and some steep gullys to cross which slowed us down some but for the most part it was easy going. We did think we’d be a lot quicker than the DOC time but you can really only go so fast in the forest and it was a good amount of distance to cover.
We hit a sign that indicated our turn towards the hut and about 3km to go. Here it started to get really muddy and we both had our feet submerged at one point or another. We did get a chance to rinse before climbing to the hut as there was a large river crossing right before.
We stopped for a quick lunch at the hut and saw a sign that said it would take 8 hours to get to the next campsite when our notes said 4. We couldn’t find any other clues as to the discrepancy. We didn’t want to stay in the hut so figured we’d risk and set off to begin our 500m climb. It was quite a gentle climb for the first portion.
As we got nearer to the top the track got steeper and we entered a winter wonderland. We knew there’d be some snow but this was more than we expected. It was enough that we could hear the crunching of it under our feet. It was actually an enjoyable climb as we worked up a good sweat and stayed warm. The snow was also very peaceful and serene with no animals or other people up here.
Coming out to the top we got hit with a really strong wind chill and zero views. We were supposed to be able to see the ocean and even Bluff on a clear day but there was nothing but cloud and snow for us.
We followed the ridgeline down and started to descend out of the snow and below the clouds. Unfortunately as we descended the the snow turned into sleet and cut into our eyes pretty hard. It was really hard to see but improved to rain as we went down.
Eventually we turned off the ridge and went down in towards the campsite. It’s not much of a campsite (there’s only a portapotty), but is here to force people to camp before starting the next section over Mt. Linton Station. We’re pretty cold and wet but were able to set the tent up in the dry and get some warmer clothes on. Hopefully this cold streak snaps soon.