March 7, 2017
km traveled today: 24
total TA km: 2794
At 7:30 we quickly and quietly extricated ourselves from our hostel room with all of our stuff loose so as not to wake up our roommates with velcroing and rustling bags and such. We packed and distributed our food outside on the porch in the morning cold. The sun peeked over the roof and was surprisingly warm, the our next section’s invitation. We got everything sorted by 8:30-45 and left, walking through town to highway 94.
We waited by a gas station, thinking there might be a lot traffic that might leave it and not build up much inertia before seeing us and be more willing to stop. Worked okay! Both teams left within about a half hour, Jack and I with some quiet German guys and Jasper and Shepard with a sweet Aussie couple. We met at the start of Princhester Road and began our drizzly and misty 5 km walk to Lower Princhester Hut. It’s a gravel farm road, running straight and flat between stinky sheep fields to the hill-bottoms of the Takitumi Range.
(Eventually it got nice out for a bit)
We got to the hut by 10:30, chilled for a while inside of it, reading the hut book, and left at 10:45. It was kind of a sad hut, run down and just within the fringe of the forest right next to sheep fields. We began our ascent to Bog Burn Saddle at 820 meters, ascending 400 total in 2.6 km.
None of the climbing was really hard, but it was quite the throwback to the North Island forest; muddy and skinny overgrown track, up and down, in as humid as possible air. It was the sweatiest kind of walking, and very wet from the plants encroaching on the trail, plus spiderwebs and the kind of grasses that pull your leg hair. The saddle was entirely within the first, so it wasn’t really obvious when we were going to reach the top, but as soon as we got there we knew we’d made it because of the obvious huge and steep descent on the other side. It was slippery and muddy but through this crazy mystical beech forest.
We went in and out of some open tall grassland a time or two, and had lunch at 2 upon re-entering the forest to get out of the steady sad drizzle. Luckily only a few drops made it through the canopy on us as we ate.
Our afternoon consisted of some more popping out into tall grassland surrounded by hills and with stands of beech, and back int the forest. We reached a junction with 2 km to go until the Hut at about 4, and the last little leg was up and over a small open hill and down to the hut.
We pulled in at 4:30 to an empty 12 bunk hut! – Continuing our theme of seeing no other TA hikers for the past 5 or 6 days.
We’re happy to be inside as the weather continues to look super moody. We followed our typical hut routine, dinner was curry + cous. It’s one of the last huts! Reading northbounders’ comments that it’s the nicest hut so far was both funny and disappointing for us… Overall we had a pretty taxing day today with the super north-islandy forest walking, but that and the savanna-grassland-looking sections were so beautiful. We’re camping tomorrow so we hope the weather sorts itself out right quick.