Nippy in the morning?

Yup. You could say that.

The windows were iced shut, and I was required to use a rock to slide open the bolt to the toilet. But my feet weren’t overly concerned in my new found jandals as I staggered around half awake in the snow.

Plenty of stars out meant it would be fine, but cool.

I could see my breath even when breathing out my nostrils. I’d better make that cold. That will keep me motivated to remain in motion.

Bad radio reception, but I understood the worst of the weather has passed. At least I now have dry boots.

Thick clouds of steam from my porridge condense on the windows, probably everywhere. I’m grateful to purchase the pot on my knees. Warmth!!

Actually I’m not too bad. One long-sleeved woollen T-shirt, one woollen hoody, hood up. One thin beanie under my hoody, my thick one over. My soft shell jacket that I also slept in.

My sleeping bag, once one of the warmest goose down type has lost plenty of feathers since being discovered in a 70%-off sale in Cairns six years ago. Plenty of subsequent use.

Oh, my fleecy pants.

The top portion of my body is warm enough. I sit on my sleeping bag sipping hot coffee. It’s very slowly getting light outside.

I have a lot of fun with the volume of my breath.

An early start once again. I remember it took me nine hours to slog from Slaty Hut a few winters ago in the knee deep snow. I suspect the snow hasn’t had long enough to freeze, or will be blown from the ridges. Here is hoping.

Better munch my porridge, actually boiled up muesli with pecan and hazelnuts, plus the odd pumpkin seed. It’s good to start a cold day with a full stomach.

I hear the local weka grumbling around outside. The snow has mostly gone from under the trees and she’s not so keen to tromp through the snow. I saw her yesterday looking like a wet leather rugby ball, fluffed up but unconcerned by the change from summer to winter in a day. Tough breed the weka.

Blue sky around as I started my 250 m trudge up the ridge along Old Man, (the mountain).

The snow was only ankle-deep but completely covered the ground, as well as adhering to the beech branches and weighing them down.

For a while the going was good, then I arrived at the first of half a dozen rocky sections. Oh, I remembered that one. A fair drop of 20 m or so on one side that raised my heartbeat even without snow.

This morning the narrow path was iced up. Slippery indeed.

I had to climb up and go across the top and that wasn’t the easiest procedure. Some working my way around on the seat of my pants although in general my heavy boots proved to have sufficient grip in the snowy conditions.

I followed a remarkable collection of animal tracks in the snow. Seems the possum, rat, and occasional bird like the open nature of the path.

For me it wasn’t quite so open with the big bendy branches dumping their load on my new raincoat as I brushed past.

Still, I was well clad for this Little Adventure. I had a hoody over my standard tramping T-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt with top pocket, hood up over a thin beanie, and my heavy beanie over the lot. Covering all that was my new bright yellow raincoat to cut down the cold wind.

Not having overtrou that I would have worn, I was in shorts with my heavy-duty gaiters stopping the snow getting into my boots. And, of course, my leather gloves.

I made slow progress with the many ups and downs along to Old Man, getting around those icy rocks.

Once I was on the Ada Flat ridge around to Slaty Peak I could let rip. It was clearly easy-going, albeit with a strong wind that could on occasion almost knock me over.

It was snowing in the Kaikouras for the morning, and occasional flurries hit me.

As I approached Slaty Hut I thought, better keep going to Starveall Hut if I want to get to Nelson on Friday. The thought was if it was before 2 pm when I left the hut, even with these short days I’d march on.

I left about 1 59 pm, but the sign indicated it was only 2.5 hours to Starveall Hut. Even with snow I should be able to make it.

So, a big day with the snow and intensity required in the slippery areas.

I had thought about snow blindness early on, but the sunlight wasn’t excessively bright, and along the ridge some snow had blown off.

Starveall Hut was empty and cold but I quickly made dinner and slid into my sleeping bag to scoff it.

Better mention the extraordinary views from the ridge over to Mt Richmond and along past Mt Fell to Point 1496 and Conical Knob, and even down to the Roebuck Hut site. Snow made all those ridges seem even more gnarly.

In the other direction was a fine view out over the Waimea Plains and Tasman Bay. Nelson’s back beach and the airport was clearly visible. It was a treat.

Yesterday may have been completely horrible with the wind and poor visibility, and it seemed obvious to wait a day. That all paid off today.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Starveall Hut

Starveall Hut, Alpine Route, Mt Richmond Forest Park
← Day 13 | Old Man Hut, again Day 15 | Rocks Hut. Back again →