Man, after yesterday’s 2000+ m climbing there wasn’t much spring in my step.
I was up early for some photos of a hugely pink sky, Mount Fell Hut has a view towards the Marlborough Sounds which was one pale blue ridge after another.
The hut is officially closed due to it being found to be on a slip with potential to migrate down the hill at any time but I stayed here once when I was 16 and again a year and a half ago when it was still open. Indeed the hut has been there since 1964, that’s around 19,000 nights, the chance of my one night being catastrophic is fairly low.
They put some more windows in the hut in 1995 and it makes enough of the view to be quite memorable, considering it started life as an enclosed in an NZFS SF70 style hut.
Heavy work getting back up to the ridge, my legs weren’t functioning too well.
Much of the day was doing yesterday in reverse, climbing down Mount Fell, seemed more perilous when looking out rather than my face towards the hill, then The Chain, which also seemed somewhat steeper but allowed abseiling.
Down at the bottom of The Chain, almost at Conical Knob, I ran into a slow-moving couple thinking they were getting to Richmond Saddle Hut.
2 40 pm already. Not so likely.
I suggested Mount Fell Hut, but, with some people it’s best just to keep moving.
If you can’t be friendly with a smiling, helpful bloke on a steep hill, well, I guess you can’t be too friendly.
I added a spare marker I had found yesterday to the Roebuck track near the top of Conical Knob, the first marker had been 40 m down the hill and also added some pink plastic ribbon for, umm, additional visibility. Might be useful for anyone who is trying to find the start of the track stop
200 m down the steep slope of Conical Knob I thought I heard voices.
Hunters up here? Unlikely, but you never know. Probably goats.
I sat at the top of a little knob for, um, a breather, resting those knees and was caught up by a guy from the Czech Republic. He had been at Richmond Saddle Hut, along with 15 others overnight and was heading to Roebuck.
You missed the turnoff at the top of Conical Knob, where I just illuminated the first marker. He had actually seen it but was navigating via his smart phone. We discussed the merits of bush bashing down to the river, bluffs, crossing the river, getting back upstream to Roebuck. I thought it quicker to climb back up to the track, he groaned, then agreed.
Time for a cigarette, he rolled one, smoked it, put it out carefully and buried the evidence.
It was after five, he was going to Roebuck. Then in the way that adventurous and energetic 20-somethings can do he would continue over Totara Saddle, Hacket Hut then walk out to the road end for something to fill in his nighttime. He was a man in a particular hurry, helped by not much on his back, he was clearly making pace. Roebuck to the road end would be considered a full day’s effort by most, eight hours or so according to DOC.
He had had a big weekend. He had started with a night walk up to the Mount Starveall, then the second day over to Richmond Saddle via Old Man and down the hill to the start of the Mount Richmond track over on the Marlborough side. I guess he was testing himself but his knowledge of New Zealand conditions was not complete, he didn’t realise the orange markers he was following were, umm, track markers, he thought they were something to do with wasp control.
I’d picked up a small piece of permolat and showed him. This is the track marker type for your route to Roebuck.
But he was exceptionally cheery, unconcerned by the effort, a tall lean walking machine and we headed off in different directions, me to continue my slow plod down the hill, still around 900 m drop to go. He had his unexpected 200 m climb.
All that chatting, and a late start, I guess slow walking as well, and I popped into Middy Creek Hut just on dark.
Just the way I like it.