Just drizzling in the morning, no heavy rain, so I decided to move on. After all it’s only three hours up to the next hut.
There were two major issues of the day.
The rain came down heavily further upstream, the river rose, progress was not easy. Eventually after an hour or so, after the junction of the smaller Hokitika, and the thundering Whitcombe Rivers, just at the start of the Collier Gorge, I came to a standstill.
No way ahead. Big rocks, covered in moss, sloped towards the river.
It was now raining is usually defined. West Coast style.
I looked for a low route, but the river seemed too high.
Then I thought I’d climb above the house size rocks, up into the scrub. Actually I kept climbing for a while. A long while, maybe 100 m in elevation, looking for a way to sidle, but there was a creek with steep drops and eventually I had to retreat back down near the river. Easier down than up.
I thought I’d give the rocks ago. 4 or 5 m above the river.
I’d been taking my pack off on occasions to get everything over the rocks while unattached to my body. It still had 15 days’ food aboard, and was sodden and entirely awkward to manhandle.
What happened next was the single most crazy thing I’ve ever encountered on a tramping expedition. My pack slipped over, and slid slowly down the sloping mossy rock into the huge raging flooded Whitcombe River!!
That was one of my life’s most thoughtful moments. Pack, sleeping bag, warm clothes, food, camera, tent, sleeping mat, wallet, keys, etc, were all departing the area.
It drifted rather rapidly downstream.
But how’s this for luck? It was caught in an eddy, and swept into a cul-de-sac that I could, packless, scramble down to.
Up to my crutch in water I tried to drag it out, but it now had litres of water aboard.
This was serious.
Eventually I hurled it up on a large rock, and slowly clambered out myself.
That was oh so lucky!! Now, what to do?
Time to retreat. Still raining.
That river was gnarly, it’s a huge mass of water smashing its way downstream. the Whitcombe can get huge, and its very steep.
I was now cold from the waist down, well, frigid, cold elsewhere.
Wet. With a very heavy pack, I thought I’d go back to the first available place I could put my tent up. More boulder hopping back, then when I entered the forest there was a small area, almost big enough to whack my tent up.
Yeah, I ended up camping. My tent was soaked. My sleeping bag was considerably damp. But I had my sleeping mat blown up, and could lie in bed, and make cups of soup to heat up, and then dinner.
Not really possible to roll over in my tent, due to the slope.
Man, I’ll have to sort this mess out in the morning.← Day 1 | Rapid Creek Hut, Hokitika River valley Day 3 | Frew Hut, Whitcombe River →