Te Araroa Trail – Day 71
Saturday, January 13, 2024
Distance/ Total: 18.6 km / 11.6 mi
It was another early morning with an 18+ km day planned through the mountains. The clouds moved in overnight and we were fogged in again this morning.
Claudio and I started up the trail toward Mt. Crawford. It was a 2 km hike and it seemed like we would never get to the top. Claudio, Thea (from Australia), and I all reached the summit about the same time and took a short break on the leeward side to rest. It was still fogged in so there were no views to see.
From here the trail was about 3 kilometers down hill. Almost 1000 meters downhill. It started out following the ridge line down so it wasn’t too steep, but when we hit the tree line it became very steep. The roots worked as steps and made the descent a little easier. But not too easy – sometimes the steps may be 2-3’ high.
We continued steeply down for about 2 hours before reaching a suspension bridge across the Otaki River. This suspension bridge didn’t have a board floor, but was mesh. A little different and a lot more unnerving as I crossed.
Shortly after the bridge we reached the Waitewaewae Hut and stopped there to eat lunch. After lunch and a short break it was back on the trail for another 9km of tramping track.
I’m not sure if it was because I was already tired, but the countless ups and downs in this section were really wearing me out. It was a forest trail with lots of mud, down trees, roots, and steep ascents and descents. On one of the descents I slid down and snapped my trekking pole in two. I’m so used to having 2 poles, especially on steep downhills, I had to find a stick to use for the remainder of the descent.
The steep trail continued on for over 4 hours and I was totally exhausted. The only redeeming factor was for the last 2 km the trail joined an abandoned lumbering tramway with a much more forgiving grade. Unfortunately part of it had been wiped away by a landslide and we had to climb up and over the slide area to get by. Back on the tramway it was a nice walk out to the Parawai Lodge. Not really a lodge, just a large hut with room for 18. There is probably about 12 here tonight so it’s pretty full.
I cooked, ate, cleaned up and visited with the other guest for awhile before climbing up to my bed in the loft. One more tough day and then I’ll be out of the Tartarus Range.