Good times with good people
We started our walk to Arthurs Pass with really heavy bags as we were told some really bad weather was coming and we thought we would be stuck in the first hut for a few days waiting for the rivers to go down. It turned out to be blue skies and sunny.
We followed a river in a valley among mountains sometimes crossing it sometimes sideling the hillside.
Although it wasn’t the most scenic stretch there was just something about it. I felt so happy and my life seemed so clear and it seemed like everything fell in to place, I felt like I was on a high.
At one point we passed a natural hot pool. In the middle of our track was a hot sulphur bath waiting for us. We quickly stripped off and jumped in. I felt like a very big, happy vegetable slowly stewing for a big feast. We sat there for a while unable to believe our luck and the insanity of the situation. I was lying back on some black, soft moss looking over the mountains across the valley feeling like the happiest person in the world.
On our second to last day it had started to rain ever so slightly. We had a lot of river crossings, leaving us with cold wet feet all day. It wasn’t nice but we kept looking forward to the heat from the fire at our next hut. Upon our arrival though we were met with an unpleasant surprise; the hut was full. Slightly unmotivated, we started moving further. The main road to Arthurs Pass was only 3 hours away we could get there and set up camp before dark but we were cold, wet and the idea of tenting in the rain was uninviting. We were told about some private huts along our way and to try our luck there, maybe someone would be there and let us stay. The hut we got to was empty and locked up but it seemed a good place to pitch our tents, so we did. Luckily, Ben decided to keep walking because just around the corner was another hut.
Oh, by the way we met Brandon, an American tramper also walking the TA a day before so now there was four of us.
Fran the possum hunter who occupies the hut welcomed us in and good she did because that night it rained like crazy. She let us dry by her fire and even shared some of her venison from a stag her husband had shot. We were so happy and thankful for her hospitality.
Fran is a fantastic, bubbly lady who stays at the hut few weeks at the time setting up traps, hunting for possums. She quickly became our friend and favourite person.
The next day it was still raining and after a quick look at the river it was clear we wouldn’t get across. In one night the calm see-through stream had turned in to a deep, fast and unpassable force of water. Fran, amazing as she is offered to have us for another night and we so thankfully accepted.
Once again Mother Nature had forced us to stop, but we didn’t mind it as we spent the day chatting, cutting up vegetables for a yummy stew and reading. Arthur went off to help Fran set up some traps while I got some writing done.
In the evening Fran told us there was more venison in the forest if we wanted. Meat starved as we were it was not an opportunity we wanted to pass so she showed us the location on the GPS and the boys went off in the darkening evening to retrieve the hind legs from leftover stag.
After what seemed like a really long time we could finely hear them coming back through the bush. They all agreed that they felt awfully manly cutting off the legs. Fran and I cut the beautiful meet into small chunks and made a stew that we could carry with us the next day. What an amazing experience that was.
The next day the sun was shining and the skies were blue and the going was easy. The river looked like its normal self again and we didn’t hesitate going across. I think we ended up crossing the river 6 times. The water was seriously cold but we got used to it and the sun was warming and drying us as the day went on.
We got to the road all good and Arthur and I started hitching the 22km to Arthurs Pass. Ben went to Greymouth to stock up and Brendon our new American friend decided to walk. We’re all going to meet up at a hostel in the evening though to have our remaining stew.
This section has been one of my favourite stretches so far I think.
The mountains, hot pools, Fran, the sun, the rivers and valleys, the birds and the bugs and the delicious venison are all seeping in to me like a big drug that I can’t ever get enough of. I am tired but I never want this feeling to go away I want to hold on to these experiences forever. This is what this journey really is all about.