Nelson Lakes , 5 days with highlights Waiau Pass and Sunset saddle

Nelson lakes finally gave me a great excuse to use my sea kayak that has been sitting patiently on the top of the 5 th all this time .

Set off from lake Rotoroa early for 12 km couple of hours + or so paddle up the lake to the Subine hut. After repacking the backpack which was deck cargo , I set off for West Subine hut , about 5 hours up the valley .

My minimum objective was to get to the top of Waiau pass , a TA highlight for many and this I was able to do easily from the Blue hut as I left most of my gear and only carried a light pack for my early foray up the Pass.

Met old TA friends Isaac , Maira and Tim on the way up , which I had calculated would happen . I was walking SOBO , THEY NOBO

Headed back to the west Subine after topping the Waiau Pass the following morning , in cloudy but not too cold conditions. Views from top limited as the day started with rain

Day 4 was over the Travers saddle and down to the John Tait hut , a very honest 9 hour walk with 1000 metres of climbing up through dense Beech forest . A long way up

Had some company at the John Tait hut , a couple of TA SOBOS’s , Callum and Enzo and another couple of trampers , he sporting impressively painful looking blisters on his heels .

Enzo was a real character , a youngish very enthusiastic pot smoker, enjoying joints all the way up the Travers valley .

He sat on the corner of his bunk carefully rolling a fat joint , looked over to me speculatively and asked if I would like to join him outside , being sociable I guess and looking for company . I sensed this disapproving look from 2086 km away in Sydney where Barb is currently staying with family , shrugged and said “ what go on tour stays on tour Enzo “

He looked mystified but I explained that smoking weed was not something I normally did however I had been a very regular inhaler of smoke , as a lifetime beekeeper . Was also just a little curious as smoking cannabis way back when I had never been able to notice any effect from the odd puff or 3 that I had tried.

Long story shortened , I can confirm that I’m unlikely to take this up as a habit as it appears to have no effect on me . He assured my it was “ the very best”

Started early on day 5 . This was the highlight of my trip . An ascent of Sunset Saddle from up the Hopeless valley , over to the area near Mt Angelus and over the Cedric and down to the Sabine .

Was an epic day , 10 hours of walking . The crux of the climb is the lower section of the climb where it sidles up to this waterfall . It very steep so walking pools were contracted and put on the pack. The climb required a head for heights and your hands for contact with the rocks as you picked your way ever upwards .

The top of this water fall face is only about half way , as it heads up bouldery slopes , but not as dangerously steep for the most part . This route is not an official DOC track however small rock cairns mark the way for trampers who give it a go . This is not a route to take if you can’t handle boulder hopping.

It’s a massive decent from the Cedric Track ( from 1900 saddle to 500 metres at lake ) so a great test of knees as the track plunges relentlessly through the beech forest .

Was very pleased to be back to my kayak and the Subine Hut by about 5 .30 pm . A big 10 hour day .

I had thought I was very smart to have chucked 2 cans of beer out into the lake on day 1 , ready for a cool beer on my return . What I failed to bank on was that the lake was very high on day one . It dropped by about .5metres in the 4 days I was away and some lucky tramper spotted my cans and had themselves a lucky day .

Didn’t really dampen my pleasure of what was a truely epic day

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