I intended an early start: 6 30 am.
Actual wake-up: 6 40 am.
Okay, that wasn’t going to happen. Still, a rapid packup ensued, slowed only by my normal procrastination about eating my heated muesli. I normally enjoy eating, but for some reason breakfast is always a struggle.
Sandfly numbers had built up against one of the windows. An early start for them.
Frankly I prefer an easier day despite the loss of pack weight with now only one day’s food rations remaining.
And that horrible breakfast.
Maybe that’s why some just eat muesli bars.
So, good friends, that was a monumental day for a bloke. Monumental sights, and an almost monumental effort for this stage of the trip.
My body was weary before I started to climb but it was certainly in complete lack of energy when it finished the day. I saw in the hutbook that some had gone hut to hut in four hours. I took for 11 hours, although obviously not all was in motion.
Some was spent climbing, usually futilely, looking for a better route.
It wasn’t as spectacular as Paske Saddle, but the valley was tighter, with very rugged peaks on view, cliffs, rock falls, avalanche trails, etc. A field of speargrass. Big rocks in streams, or precariously perched halfway up slopes.
Finding the start of the track was an issue. Well, I made it one. If a track is shown on a LINZ Topo50 map maybe it would be there.
I spent time searching for the track that just started 20 m away, it was hidden by some avalanche debris. Instead, I inspected said detritus at close range, then giving up crashed through the tight sapling forest and circled around to find it.
Full speed ahead.
While being washed away in occasional places, there was also a little windfall to hamper speedy movement.
Oh, what joy!!
Moving through territory at some pace on Day 18 of this kind of expedition felt good.
Sadly, a few hundred metres from the hut I needed to cross the ridiculously slippery Connors Creek, and that meant rinsing my toes once more. I wasn’t so concerned at the time, more for the possible consequences should I get a lift back to Nelson tomorrow.
Connors Creek Hut is only 1 km from the Rainbow Road, and having four-wheel-drive access there was no surprise a large four-wheel-drive was parked adjacent.
I took to my tent to allow an uninterrupted sleep.
Man, I was ready for that.