Backtracked to Tekapo to complete this section , necessitated by the recent weather bomb that now has our big rivers unfordable for the foreseeable.
Took company for this leg in the form of the audio book , The power of One . A story out of Africa about a young English boy in Boer dominated Sth Africa growing up. An emotive yarn based on early memories of the author , Bryce Courtney and skilfully narrative by master voice of Humphrey Bower . A true performance where the beauty of the language shines . At 21 hours in the telling , a great listen as the kms click by.
Was a pleasant walk into the first hut “ Camp stream hut “ A private hut controlled by the MacKenzie basin Alpine trust . Great spot with ample firewood flown in .
Arrived early but hesitated to push on as the forecast for the next day was great and the views would be fantastic if I tarried .
Eventually had hut companions when Meredith and Raewyn arrived , both NOBO’s . Both non snorers so I’m happy .
I woke early as per usual and began preps for the big day up and over stag Saddle , the high point of the whole TA at 1900 m . My hut companions also spurred on by my early movement , got organised themselves .
Had the privilege of parking the 5 th wheel at beekeeping friends Peter and Dawn Wards place at Hawea and have shared some memorable times with them over the last few weeks as I have drifted in and out of their lives . An incredibly inclusive family used to providing hospitality, friendship and support to a diverse range of folk . They have this curious family custom at dinner time , before saying grace they invite each member present to speak about anything they feel grateful about . We all too often get into spells where we fail to appreciate just how much we have to be grateful for . As I sat down for a spell at Stags saddle my mind settled on the Ward family and the deep impression they made on me .
I quickly rattled off my grateful thoughts for the day , on this cloudless, windless lovely warm day on the saddle
◦ Happy for the perfect weather and the magnificent scenery
◦ Thankful that my body is fit and these long walks well within my physical abilities
◦ Grateful when walking alone that no one noticed the tears streaming from my eyes as I listened to the powerful audio performance of “ The power of one “
◦ Very content with being alive and enjoying this moment
Royal hut illustrates a frustrating bad habit of TA walkers who have left rubbish in the fire place . With zero firewood anywhere , having a fire is an academic impossibility , yet some fuckwit TA walkers deem it acceptable to dump rubbish there . Idiots giving us all a bad name . Pack in pack out the moto .
Finally stopped at Stone hut after a long but magnificent day
Lieven was this cool guy who gave me my lucky day hitch all the way out of the Rakaia and back to Lake Clearwater on the previous section . I meet his lovely Italian girlfriend again yesterday just as she was nearing stag saddle heading South , me North .
Lieven is pretty good at catching these Salmon on the Rakaia , pre flood .
I rose at 5:30 am , intent on a crack of dawn start as it would take a full 9 hours of effort to get out to the Rangitata river . This woke up my 2 hutmates , Raewyn and Meredith and they also started to wake up. I was busying myself with food when this sound like a clap of thunder shook the hut . Honestly wasn’t sure what happened till I heard one girl apologise with a plaintive plea that “ don’t worry , it’s all very well contained in my zipped up sleeping bag”
I chuckled to myself with my memory that as a little boy I had this idea that girls did not .. perhaps , could not Fart . With 3 older sisters I thought this belief well founded as I’d never heard them ! This said I guess the expression “ to Fart like a man “ maybe means men tend to express themselves more loudly while most woman just quietly let them slip. There always remain exceptions to the rule .
The last part of the walk was a 9 km section thru Bush Stream , rather high from recent rain and we decided as a group to stick together to provide security / safety for the many crossings required . This involved the classic loosen packs the form a line of 3 holding on to your neighbours pack straps . In the fast moving current this proved invaluable as we negotiated some tricky currents
By 9 hours we had made it all the way out to Mesopotamia, the site of Samual Butlers homestead. We were all absolutely soaked thru as the rains persisted all afternoon and into the night . The river would be impassable now and we were lucky to get thru safely .
We found a tin topped shelter that allowed us to get into a set of dry gear and thankfully my contact from the Peel Forest Farmstay arrived to pick me up . The girls happily joined me as the Farmstay was happy for 2 more paying guests .
They provided a hearty meal of slow cooked venison and vege and a nice bed . Great section , enjoyed