Somehow I’m leaving Angelus with more food than I arrived. Last night just as I was cranking up the stove, wondering if I had sufficient fuel for six nights cooking I was asked if I wanted some pasta. A guide from a, err, commercial guided party had cuisined up too much and so I dug in, just to help them out, except unlike my austere menu, this pasta version had bulk vege added, maybe some obscure meat but, all in all, a delicious surprise.

This morning, I got a packet of pita breed, a pillow of lettuce and another of chopped broccoli, then a packet of smoked chicken. I held back on accepting half a bag of coffee, just as well, the other guide wasn’t so keen for that to disappear.

I’ve been speaking to a German couple about climbing Mt Angelus, 2075m, they had it on their itinerary, might as well be on mine too, I’m heading over Sunset Saddle and down Hopeless Creek, the summit is not far up from the saddle.

The morning is cloudless, of course, I’m well used to this, the early morning light leaving some rocks to the east beautifully silhouetted, then when someone gets up they ask, where has the lake gone, the reflection is perfect, looks like rock.

I trudged up Sunset Saddle with my pack then waited for Marcus and Sarah to arrive, they were going to be heading back to their tent and were much less encumbered with luggage. From an early vantage point the scramble to the top seemed at the limit of what I’d want to go up, or more important, down, these days but as we approach it didn’t seem so bad and although there was some small areas of cloud over towards the West Coast and the Bay at Nelson it really is quite the glorious view. To the west is Lake Rotoroa with the D’Urville River on show; the speck of D’Urville hut perched above the lake shore; behind that the low slung Tiramea Saddle and Mole Tops very clearly, I know that area from last year’s trip around the highlights of Nelson Lakes National Park; more directly south is Mt Hopeless, Cupola and Mount Travers; to the east way in the distance that big hill Tapuae-o-Uenuka, the biggest mountain outside the Southern Alps and bigger than anything in the North Island; then, way and the distance Red Hill; and quite clearly behind, both Mt Rintoul and Little Rintoul from Wednesday last week, been a fair level of effort to get this far.

Back down to the saddle we parted company, they on the last weeks of six months in New Zealand, and 18 months world travel, still holding hands, making their way back to Germany in a month, me down the rocky Hopeless valley, it’s rock hopping for an hour or two then you get to the hopeless part, a 300m cliff that you have to sidle around, over more boulders, and eventually onto a scree slope, all the while with the most picturesque views all around.

As a 16 year old I came down the same route and record somewhere in the memory banks a two minute period of being uncomfortable with my chosen method of travel, I could see today where we had gone gung ho over some rock with some minor exposure, but these days, not being in a group, and more risk averse, I negotiated a safer trajectory, but, to be honest, I feel like it’s been quite the day’s effort, and should sleep soundly.

This is a typical U-shaped glaciated valley with very steep sides going up to jagged summits, still with that perfectly blue alpine sky.

And then the solitude of this cute ply-lined hut, built by the Alpine Club and opened by Edmund Hillary in 1967. It’s sure got the view of the sheer cliffs opposite and a view down to the St Arnaud Range at the end of the valley.

My own little piece of solitude after a couple of nights being gregarious.

← Day 15 | Angelus Hut, hey, this place is still special Day 17 | Upper Travers Hut, look, fellow trampers →