Mount Cedric is always a big day. After which you find sleeping comes quickly once night falls.
The Mount Cedric route to Lake Angelus starts fairly steeply as you clamber up to the bush line at around 1300 m. I caught up with some earlier departees, several decades more youthful.
But around the summit of Mount Cedric, an insignificant bump on the end of a ridge, the clouds whirled in, giving a super mysterioso aura as I made my way between the rock outcrops.
For a moment there was a view directly up the Sabine Valley and Waiau Pass clearly observed.
Man, was I up there just a couple of days ago.
Then it was down to 50 m visibility. That’s been the story of my summer.
But once I made the Angelus Ridge, at around 1850 m the highest point on getting over to the hut, it was all clear skies over Marlborough to the east, and sunlight burst through. Just a lot of rock hopping to get down to the hut, practice for later in the day.
I was the first tramper to the hut of the day, it was going to be a full house according to the hut warden who was enjoying the sunshine. We sat outside talking all things tramping. She had an incident most days, people arriving without a sleeping bag or cooking gear, someone had slashed their hand, someone else had freaked out with the general gnarliness, but had been teamed up with a similar foreign language speaker.
We both appreciated a typical conversation with a local, in an otherwise generally foreign-dominated environment where humour is of a different kind, and usually one way.
After an hour and a half of conversational replenishment, people were starting to arrive. I took off. 3 30 pm and another four hours to Bushline Hut if I didn’t step on it.
It was a big skedaddle, but unlike those heading towards the hut, for me after a fairly intensive first third, walking around the vertical shards on the edge, big-time boulder hopping on reasonably steep slopes, the track becomes progressively easier.
I encountered a few youthful foreigners hopping over the rocks. A couple asked me the best way to go back, Speargrass, or Robert Ridge. Humm, bit late in the day, I suggested the high route, back the way they had come, which they did not seem to relish.
Then a couple of older women, older than me, who were not making express pace. Another young German guy out on a day walk, heading back to Kea Hut later, he looked as if he would be okay.
The next couple, in their early 70s were clearly in trouble. Large packs and the woman clearly unsettled by the often precarious footing. They still had the last and hardest quarter of the day to go, when they were dog tired. She was clearly not coping. He was not at all empathetic. It would be dark before they arrived. Not much I could do, I raced off in the opposite direction.
The issue is that Lake Angelus is somewhat hyped, it appears in Lonely Planet for instance, but not much is mentioned of it being, at least in part, a fairly gnarly ridge, up at 1600 to 1800 m, fully exposed to the weather.
At least the weather aspect was entirely benign, warm with little wind.
Yes, there were more wanting to get to the hut.
At 6 45 pm, ie, late in the day I encountered a trio of foreigners almost at my turnoff to Bushline Hut. They seem to be ambling along so I stopped to offer some advice, ie, doing that last bit in the dark would be awkward, particularly when there is no full moon.
I was wondering about the information people base their decisions on. They announced they were keen on their own Little Adventure.
I rambled on about the rock hopping requirements and the current lack of any moonlight. They continued on, but later I heard that they had actually heeded my words. Three hours in the darkness over that terrain would test many.
So it was getting on when I saw the door to the usually locked private Kea Hut was open. I always wanted to have a peak inside so I introduced myself to the inhabitants. I know some of the people involved in the restoration of the 1930s hut, and who had recently constructed the similarly sized woodshed. The two had a long association with the area. The father of one had been on the original construction team.
After an hour it was time to continue down to my own accommodation, only a few minutes away.
Dinner in the dark conversing with three Dutch people and another Kiwi, all around my age.
That’s a mix I can cope better with.
Almost 1800 m climbing, and close to 20 km. Yeah, a big day.
No wonder I dropped like a stone once I hit my damp sleeping bag.
Is there a good reason to do a big day like this? After all I could have taken an easier route via Speargrass Hut.
To me it’s about making the most of the situation: the weather forecast was good, the views outstanding. I want to get as much as I can out of this opportunity.
It’s so hard to get into that state: sufficient time, reasonable weather. If I had planned things I might not have my current level of fitness, or it could have been windy, or raining, or both. I may never be able to do it again due to injury.
And it’s just special.
This is my world.