Man, what a long day!

But not from walking. Sometimes just getting to the start of the tramp takes the energy.

In these days of World’s Best Practice I discovered it wasn’t so easy getting to the start of the St James Walkway. Buses go past there, but when I went to buy the ticket, there was no guarantee that they would stop.


Well, she spelt my name wrong, and managed to book me on the incorrect day, so maybe she wasn’t up to speed. I ended up just buying a ticket to Murchison. I could hitch.

That required a 5 am start to get to the 7 15 am bus.

That pack felt heavy!

The hitching option did not work at Murch despite the fine day. The road might just have been too busy. Already at 9 30 am the traffic came in streams.

Then, three buses turned up. The Picton bus, one going back, somewhere, and an overflow vehicle.

There was room in the Christchurch bus, but there was no price. I suggested $20, but it needed to be confirmed.

Everyone was in good cheer.

The driver’s phone rang and rang. Headquarters wasn’t answering. Oh, they have, and it will be $47 for the 120 km. I had to buy a ticket all the way to Hanmer. That didn’t seem right. I said no. In any case I had insufficient cash.

My previous unofficial offer was accepted, and we were off. To a half hour lunch stop at Springs Junction. Then major traffic works up to the Pass.

1 30 pm when I finally arrived. It took another hour to get started, changing clothes and getting boots on, my walking pole was jammed up. Talking to others starting on the St James.

Eventually I was away, on the other side of the road from the St James, going where I hadn’t gone before, up onto the Lewis Pass tops. The track is well marked, at least through the forest, at which point official DOC markers cease.

I had climbed maybe 200 m in vertical gain, was seated, contemplating, umm, the mountain beech forest, when I heard some huffing and puffing. Two hunters, about my age, were heading uphill, so I joined their party to help drag me up.

My pack was way bigger than theirs combined, but their rifles slowed them down a little. And once out of the forest, around the 1300 m mark, there was plenty of stopping and glassing the slopes in the distance. Not much sense in me forging ahead disturbing any chamois for them.

Actually we met two more trampers coming the other way, so it was a surprise to have a gathering of five on what I’d imagined would be a solitary jaunt mid-week.

I learned that a decent rifle costs $1200, with the appropriate scope double that. And that expensive scopes don’t make any difference during the day. It’s the low light periods when they are more useful.

I stopped at the second tarn I came across, too far down to the first, although it looked a good and sheltered campsite. The hunters kept on.

Finally on my own, down next to what was a series of small tarns, camped on spongy snow grass, with excellent views of Mount Technical, 1870 m, ie, big, which I will skirt alongside tomorrow on my way to Brass Monkey Bivvy. The weather forecast is good in the immediate future, but after that I’d better be in Lake Christabel Hut for a big downpour.

Later, lying in my sleeping bag, cramp!!

No surprise. Overtired with not much sleep the night before, dehydrated, and cold at 1500 m. I had just fallen asleep.

Fortunately I have some tablets with high magnesium, and some Vegemite to give an immediate potassium boost. But I needed to struggle painfully to the tarn to quench my thirst.

After that, three minutes of pain, I dropped quickly back to sleep.

Day 2 | Lucretia Hut →