I had two nights in Kaikoura to replenish the batteries and sort my stuff out for another week or so in the Clarence River valley. I preferred not to leave behind my essentials this time.
I really needed a day of rest, because Day 3 was going to be an effort. It’s about 1000 m climb on a decent farm road, but is fairly unrelenting in the uphill direction. Considerably more weight aboard this time around, including my burner and spoon. I found I prefer hot food in winter.
The weather forecast was grim to start, then improving for the remainder of the day. 40 mm of rain for the following day, but precipitation actually started around lunchtime today. I was too cold to stop much during the day, and lunch was taken after I arrived at the hut around 4 30 am.
It’s my fifth time coming over Blind Saddle, so I knew to expect the long steep climb, and the weather, but neither proved too bad in the circumstances.
With unrelenting hills, it’s best to disengage your brain and instead simply engage forward motion. In this instance, I listened to a few podcasts as I strode on up. That took my mind off the excessive weight of my pack straps.
Patches of sunlight made the valley floor glow, but it wasn’t too long before I was travelling in thick cloud with very limited view. Just at the top, at 1200 m, it started to rain, except it floated down. That was snow.
At first the flakes were few, but eventually, it was full-on snowing, sufficient to cover the ground. However, the road is fairly steep and before long no snow was underfoot, just flakes floating around.
The road had plenty of recent rubble coating. Must have been a decent shake to bring it all down. Once past the flattish or actually undulating section that sidled around the steep hills above, the downhill started seriously again, although you only go down half of what you climbed in the morning.
The stream at the bottom was ankle-deep, and despite two crossings I arrived at the hut with my socks dry.
Warden Hut was deserted, as expected, because who on earth would be out here at this time of year, with tomorrow’s weather forecast?