January 12, 2017
km traveled today: 32 (14 road km’s driven until the Roadend trailhead)
total TA km: 1840
Today was a great way to kick off the South Island all back together again. Because Jack, Sam, and I did Queen Charlotte track without Shep, and because he did it on his own, it didn’t quite feel like we fully began the South Island until this morning.
Awake at 6:30, we ate our OSM bars and loaded our packs into Will’s Mom’s car. She drove us to the Pelorus Roadend so we wouldn’t have to walk a hefty chunk of road, and so she and Carder (Shep’s girlfriend) could check out the first bit of the Pelorus River track before they had to head off to drop Carder at the bus station.
We set off from the Roadend at around 8:00 AM and instantly realized the walk ahead of us was gorgeous. The perfectly turquoise Pelorus River led us through the woods, showing off its beautiful cliffs and deep blue water. After about 20 minutes, we said a tough goodbye to Lelia and Carder, and were off on our own again, all together for the first time in nearly two weeks.
The Pelorus River only got more beautiful as we traveled further up. Despite its apparent flatness on the topo maps, the track leads you on plenty of ups and downs, on which you’re sure to feel the unforgiving 9 days of food in your pack.
After a nice walk on well-formed track, we came to the junction leading to Emerald Pool. We took the 2 minute side track to check out the pool. Absolutely gorgeous. The boys graciously waited while I played in the emerald current for a few minutes. Afterward, the sandflies hurried us off.
There’s room for a tent at the end of the trail to Emerald Pool.
We got back on our way, crossing the frequent sketchy-feeling but gorgeous swing-bridge. By noon we made it to Middy Creek Hut, where we stopped for lunch. It’s a nice 6-bunk hut with wood and a saw. Water access at the nearby stream. It rained through lunch but lightened up as we were preparing to leave.
Between us and our goal for the day was nearly 750 meters of ascent made extra difficult by the heavy load of food. After one last swingbridge, the climb began.
One of my favorite things about the trail, and hiking in general, is getting to watch the flora change as you ascend. We went through sections of trail lined with thick native bush, crazy tangled staircases of roots at our feet, thin subalpine bush, and even monolithic boulders (hence the creative name “Rocks Hut.” The climb was tough but with a break every 200-250 meters or so, we made it up in just under 2 hours.
Rocks Hut is great. There are 16 bunks, firewood and a saw, a woodstove, and a table with benches. Plenty of Kiwis arrived shortly after us, which made for some nice dinner-time conversation later on. Calvin also caught us up at around 6:00.
Dinner was spaghetti and a big pot of chicken soup broth, a delightful combination we have not made use of so far. We cooked up the Backpackers Cuisine desserts that Sam and I got from my family for Christmas. Apple Pie and Strawberry “Ice-Cream Dessert.” Yum.
We finished off the evening with a ton of Hearts, Jack, Shepard, and me trying slowly but surely to close Sam’s lead on us. After plenty of games, we headed off to bed, ready to sleep away some of our soreness before heading to either Starveall or Slaty Hut tomorrow. If the weather kicks ass, we’ll try to push on to Slaty so we can cross Mt Starveall in the sunshine.
Great to be back together with Shepard, cool to be all together again. Sweet day, looking forward to plenty more in this so-far great mountain range.