March 3, 2017
km traveled today: 28
total TA km: 2728
We haven’t been waking up ridiculously early these days, as the sun doesn’t even rise until 7:30 anymore, which I think everyone is enjoying. We snoozed our alarm twice this morning and ended up waking up at 8. While packing up we were careful to be super quiet so as to not wake the small hut’s other inhabitant, an older kiwi tramper guy. Outside was a beautiful soft light, with a little bit of high cloud and some low clouds rushing past the peaks up and down the valley.
In Greenstone hut yesterday we saw forecast rain with heavy falls, so this seemed possibly an early sign. After filling our water at the stream below the hut we set off down the valley; at times the trail was super marshy but mostly it was a fine dirt track down the right side of the wide valley, the Mararoa river braiding below.
In an hour and half we had crushed 12 km down to boundary hut; except for the marshy bits it was a breeze. Towards the final kms of that section we saw clouds increasing and finally felt some drizzle right as we got there. As we stood at the mouth of the side trail a hundred meters to the hut and considered eating lunch inside, the drizzle increased but we eventually decided to press on the next 6km to Carey’s hut as it looked like the weather was primarily coming from behind us.
Indeed it seemed like we managed to stay right in front of the drizzle line until Carey’s, so nice decision-making there. On the way we passed by a kiwi going the opposite way in his truck, out for a bit of fishing. This 6 km stretch was full 4wd track and even though it climbed up a little while turning the corner from the Mararoa valley into the Mavora lake basin we still made 6 kph time to reach the hut by 12:30. We ate lunch inside and just in time, as the rain started pouring a little while we ate. Inside, the hut is pretty vandalized, even by some TA hikers, just some names and drawings on the walls and bunks, but still quite a disappointment.
The hut was still spacious and dry though, with a gorgeous view- right on the shore of the beautiful lake Mavora with rugged peaks lining its sides. We played some cards before we left as the weather took a bit to clear up a little.
At about 2 we started the 10 km of 4wd track down to the campground at the bottom of the lake, and right near the end the rain really moved in, just as we reached the shelter of the beech forest. The last 3 km was pretty urgent fast walking through the rain only to find no shelter at the campground, just a sign and map with a little awning.
We stood for a half hour or so under the awning (not really an effective roof) and during a break in the rain we trotted over to some nice tree cover and picnic table area. By the time we started setting up tents it was visibly clearing up and soon the sun was out and we warmed ourselves at the picnic table.
A couple in a camper van right next to where we set up tents brought us hot water, and Jack had a coffee packet he hydrated. We talked about the trail with the nice North Islanders; she was actually reading the really detailed and heavy Te Araroa book about it as we walked up. We made some ramen to whet our appetite and made a less ferocious than usual curry.
As the sun dropped behind the peaks it got real cold real quick, and we bundled into our tents asap, but I’m about to go take some star pictures on the lake shore I think. Should be a clear night and hopefully the moon’s not too bright. We didn’t see a single TA hiker today, going north or south!