Stafford Bay was my day’s objective. Being in Fox Glacier that would mean a bus ride, some hitchhiking, then a four-hour walk.
I experienced good luck with hitching over the summer. But I didn’t want to push it. I knew getting from Haast to Jackson Bay might be an issue as it is just a dead end road. So I bussed the 120 km from Fox to Haast. That had me out on the Jackson Bay Road just after 11 am. The bus driver very kindly turned around to take me back to the junction when we sailed past it.
I walked down beyond the big hotel, now proclaiming itself as a café. A big sign stated Jackson Bay was 48 km away. Not much point in walking. Then I thought, after half an hour of standing around, wasn’t that the object of this whole excursion, and started plodding on my way.
After a while a guy picked me up and took me to the local service station, about 1.5 km away. I walked about the same distance, and another local took me another 5 km.
More cars went by. None stopping. Now it was after 1 pm and I still had that four-hour walk. And that four hours might end up being five.
Eventually someone did stop, but once again they were only going 2 km. Then again they might be going to the end of the road. That’s better, and how it turned out.
The world’s most remote, and possibly most expensive, fish and chip restaurant was operational so I had a late lunch, then a visit to the end of the wharf. By the time I had wandered back to the start of the track and changed my clothes it was 2 30 pm.
The hut is advertised as four hours away, but I’m carrying a bunch of basically unnecessary stuff after my postponed trip down the coast. My tent and sleeping mat for starters. Spare clothes, and my dry cell jacket.
As I was changing from my slightly less than neat and tidy travelling clothes into my shabby tramping outfit it started to drizzle so I put on my completely un-waterproof raincoat, and rolled up the sleeves. Before long I was completely drenched.
An old pack track goes over to Smoothwater River so it’s easy enough once the initial climb is done. Then it’s time to get feet wet as at times the “track” is straight up the wide and shallow river.
Soon a tributary is taken with more crossings and crashing through ferns. With a keen eye the track was generally okay to follow. Then it does a short steep-ish climb to Stafford Saddle, up at a big 243 m.
From there it was all downhill. Firstly steeply into an unnamed creek, then a close encounter with said creek. Plenty of windfall trees to be negotiated.
The scenery was stunning, but, a), the rocks are slippery, b), it was after 5 pm, c), the drizzle became heavier, d), my glasses keep fogging up and I had nothing dry them with, e), more fallen trees provided major obstacles.
I’ve always relied on the idea that things both good and bad eventually come to an end, and I eventually staggered into the hut.
A new six bunker, built 2009, with lots of north facing double-glazed windows, and I’m on my own. I can cope with that.
My new favourite hut. Well, at least a Top 5.
Everything soaked, ie, all the clothes I had worn. Quite warm, but then it is summer.
The drizzle stopped around 8 30 pm, and the sky brightened.
Yeah, it all went according to plan despite the frustrations of hitchhiking. At least I enjoyed the world’s best, if not most expensive fish and chips.
And despite the wetness, the vegetation around here is amazing.Day 2 | Stafford Bay Hut — Night 2 →