The walk from Birchwood is a long 27 kms up thru Linton Station , a massive mostly sheep farm. At about 10 am I took a phone call from search and rescue
Sir , are you Bruce Stevenson ?
Me … Yes
What is the nature of your emergency ?
Somehow my emergency sat device was set off which is very surprising indeed . They gave me instructions on how to deactivate. Hugely relieved that the cellular network was working , as they would have been obliged to get helicopters in the air to come and find me . The cellular network dropped out shortly after as I have moved ever deeper into this remote wilderness .
After 27 km on this farm
Camped at Telford campsite , no huts nearby . The erection of the tent was rapid as the area is loaded with sandflies eager for new blood . Was a long walk at about 27 km and the body felt totally spent. The sandflies quickly confined me to the relative safety of the tent and an early exhausted slumber .
Thick misty cloud enveloped the valley and by 4 am some of this mist was condensing as on the tree under which I pitched the tent and fell as drips . I hurriedly packed up everything including the wet tent and embarked on a steep ascent of a ridge line that went to 1023 metres. Whiteout conditions made finding the trail posts hard to find however the still almost windless ascent was concluded without too much trouble. From the top the descent was pleasant through Beech forest till arrival at the Lower Wairaki Hut. An early day and a chance for a lazy afternoon .
Day 3 and 4 continued thru the Takitimu Mountains , pushing ever further northwards towards the Te Anau highway SH94 . The Aparima Hut was the beginning of long open sections of the famous RED TUSSOCK and this represented the major challenge of the last days walk out to Princhester Hut. The spongy ground and often Red Tussock up to eye level made it hard to stay on the route . Marker poles were hard to spot so the gps mapping was frequently used to ensure an error had not occurred .
My TA friend Vicky was company over most of the second half of this segment and we were both very pleased to get to Princhester Hut after a hard 7.5 hours .
Worryingly my other 2 companions , Shane and Sharlene , who started out first , were not at the hut and at time of writing are unaccounted for . They have emergency comms etc and plenty of food so we hope they are ok. We strongly suspect they made a mistake after the first 2 kms where they went straight ahead on a DOC sign that did not clearly indicate the TA route turned hard right . I’ll bet they will have been very annoyed with themselves as they were eagerly anticipating a day off at Te Anau .
POSTSCRIPT they surfaced a day later after returning to the start point hut after realising the route error .. alls well that ends well
Vicky has a real sweet tooth and was hanging out for chocolate , we walked the final 6 kms out from Princhester hut to SH 94 and then hitched to TeAnau together . I had a food drop at the shearing shed at the road end and was able to supply Vicky a quick fix for her chocolate obsession