You practice for the big days. It looks like all the earlier effort has paid off.
This was a Big Day.
I had realised that at the start. B had hobbled in at around 8 pm after 13 hours, and mentioned, as had the other two a couple of days before, of the numerous windfall in the section through the forest.
I hope for an early start, and managed to get away before 7 am.
I had recalled the forest track enjoy the last time I’d walked over here, back as part of my Te Araroa trip in early 2015, although way off that particular route, well, particularly after the tussock section.
It started a little swampy in places, with cutty grass obscuring the path, but the track is clear on the ground. And relatively easy going.
Except for the windfall. I encountered four serious tranches of fallen trees.
One was a little easier, another somewhat more of an obstacle course. Only had to take my pack off once, and only one patch of vicious bush lawyer encountered. Somehow I found myself walking over tree trunks, 3 m above the ground.
I was surprised to find that once I motored around the first bend it was all over. There may have been more in the forest, but I dropped onto the river flats and preferred to negotiate the West branch down there rather than investigate the forest further.
It was speedy travel, doing some boulder hopping, and easy walking on the hyraceum-covered flats.
Then it was wandering directly up the river bed once the second bend was negotiated. Easy stepping stones, and plenty more rinsing my feet.
So far, so good.
I guess progress slowed after lunch as the incline increased.
Eventually it is obvious to leave the river, and climb one of the small ridges, with some hopping over to the next as required.
The actual pass isn’t entirely obvious.
You mean that’s the pass??!!
The idea is to get the three tarns lined up behind you, so it’s as far to the west as you can reasonably get over.
Note that “reasonably” may have slightly different definition here.
From the saddle, of course, it’s all downhill.
Still some large snow patches on the south side, but you’re not required to go through them.
The scree is not even even-grained to allow true scree running. Various sizing made the prospect of skating down the steep slope a real possibility.
Once you get down to a lip where the two tarns are, after about half an hour’s descent, the hut was clearly evident. Wouldn’t take long to get down there.
Except, yeah, it did somewhat.
Extensive areas of speargrass needed to be negotiated. In the end, once in the forest and after the river junction I made a beeline for the hut to avoid a climb to get around the rowan tree entanglement.
Only three people at the hut, mum and two teenagers, but I decided that when carrying a tent on a beautiful night I should occasionally use it. The others were very early to bed, it wasn’t even close to being dark.
I was too, scoffing my warmed up de-hi in my tent.
The weather was perfect for my pass crossing. Barely a cloud. Quite warm.
Long may that last.