The long climb
We had a fantastic rest day in Twizel and it was incredibly hard to leave the next day. I kept thinking of reasons to stay another day but it was sunny outside and every day we walk is a day closer to Bluff.
It was a nice and easy day walk to Lake Oahu village.
I had a refreshing swim in the cold lake water.
That night we slept in our tents under the starts next to the lake. Arthur and I stayed up looking at the starts for a while, eating cookies and drinking tea it was a lovely evening.
The next morning we packed up and started climbing to a saddle. It was a long and treacherous climb.
When we finally got the top we had to walk right down again sometimes crossing streams, sometimes sideling hills. We needed to cross a pretty big river at the end of the section and since we were doing pretty good on time we decided to push on and do it the same evening. It was going to get dark soon but I was very keen to get to the river so I was walking at super speeds despite the raw patches forming under my toes.
We pitched our tents on the first flat, grassy patch we could find on the other side of the river. We were exhausted and sore from the long and hard day.
The morning started off grey and gloomy. Everyone had talked about how hard this section was going to be so we just wanted to get it over and done with.
It started to clear and we were walking along a bulldozer track and it didn’t seem too bad at first but we needed to get up yet another high pass and I was really not feeling like climbing that day. Weirdly, it must have been my hardest climb yet, it was not the longest nor the steepest but for some reason I really struggled with it. I felt like I was pulling a massive, heavy sled behind me.
In the end I got up but it took me unusually long and I was pretty over it. We made it to our first hut in good time despite my slow climbing and were happy to discover that it was a modern and well insulated little hut.
I wasn’t feeling all that well the next morning. I had a cold and a stuffy head so I wasn’t very happy about the terrain ahead. It sounded horrible and although in the beginning it wasn’t too bad it quickly proved to be one of my least favourite walks. It had many steep climbs, sketchy tracks sideling mountains and plenty of stream crossings. We made the crossings into a game of trying to rock hop them all without getting wet. It wasn’t easy for me as my shoes were falling apart and any contact with water made my toes wet. Never the less, it was a good challenge for the otherwise hard day.
If the constant climbing up and down wasn’t enough we had a 500km climb to our hut.
It was a ridiculous and steep climb it reminded me of the Northland Forests just without the mud. We all made it to the top but we had had enough of that day.
I know there are more hard sections to come and I can’t wait to be done with this all. Lately I can’t stop thinking about the finish. I’m so exhausted and the going has been hard. Whatever fitness levels I have gained seem to have left me and all I can do is drag my feet dreaming of the things I will do once back in Auckland.
Once the fire was lit and my stomach full I felt a lot better though. We were staying in a cosy, old tin hut with plenty of firewood.
We had been told the next day would be very rainy so we were prepared to stay an extra day if we needed.
The morning was grey and windy but no signs of rain so we started our walk through the soft round hills ahead.
It was an incredible day. The clouds around us were dark of all shades but just above us was a small blue patch with a few light rays coming through. In the distance a small rainbow was peeking through the black clouds and I felt like I was in a dramatic water colour painting.
The winds became so strong at times I had difficulties walking, it was amazing though. We weren’t on any dangerous terrain so we could really enjoy the powers of Mother Nature. Being in a place like this with its strong gale force winds really felt magical. I enjoyed the feeling of how little and useless I was, that in the arms of the world we are small little creatures, yet we have massive egos thinking we are the bee’s knees, dictating rules and fighting about whose God is cooler.
Up here it all just made perfect sense to me. No one controls the wind, the rain, the snow. It doesn’t discriminate or punish, it doesn’t care about our silly wars, sins or any other human invention it just blows because it has to.
It was a short day to our next hut, but with the wind and the impending rain we decided not push further as it would mean staying in a tent that night. The hut was new, warm and inside we found Brandon, who by this time had been ahead of us for a while.
We spent the day playing this new card game we bought, drinking tea and eating everything we had left in our food bag.
In the evening the rain had stopped and we climbed up to the ridge line and had the most spectacular sunset over Lake Hawea and the mountains in the distance.
We stood on the cliffy rocks and shouted out to till we had no more voice left. We really were the king of the world that night.
The next morning we walked to Wanaka. It was a long walk. We had to get down off the mountains to Hawea first and the track went pretty much straight down on a steep ridge but after that it was an easy walk on a cycle trail.
In Wanaka we met up with Mikey, a friend who I knew from Auckland. He kindly let us tent on his lawn and showed us a delicious burger place. It was a nice evening that ended with us slouching on leather cheers at a bar with a beer in the hand. Cheers Mikey for a good night.
The next morning we set off to the camp site to have showers, charge things and abuse the internet. To our amazement the lady at the reception decided to kindly upgrade us to a cabin as it was raining.
This place is quickly becoming one of my favourite towns yet. If you go to Wanaka I recommend you stay at the holiday camp there the staff are wonderful.
I finally had to admit defeat with my shoes and get a new pair. I now have new bright red trail runners, ready to take me to Bluff.
I can’t believe we only have 3 weeks to go. It feels unbelievable that I might really be standing at the sign post in Bluff soon.