Te Araroa Trail – Day 84
Tuesday January 30, 2024
Distance/ Total: 18.3 km / 11.4 mi
Most of the other hikers in the hut decided to get up a 5:15 and hike up to see the sunrise from the ridgeline. I decided to stay in bed and see the sun when I got there.
I was up and on the trail about 7:00am and enjoyed the cool mountain air in the morning. The trail from camp was above tree line and climbed up to Mt. Starveall. The view from the peak were fantastic and I stopped and took several pictures before continuing on.
The trail dropped into a forest and descended into a valley and then began climbing back up. It was about 5km to Slaty Hut and I reached it about 9:15. I stopped at the picnic table and ate breakfast and filled both my water bottles because there would be no water sources until I got to the hut tonight. 2 liters seemed like plenty for 13km.
The trail from Slaty hut climbed up to a ridgeline and followed it as it circled around toward Mt. Rintoul. As it circled around the valley it dropped back into the treeline for some more shaded hiking but lots of ups and downs. As I got nearer to Mt. Rintoul it loomed bigger in front of me. After another long climb the trail exited the treeline and the bare top of Little Rintoul was directly ahead.
Mt. Rintoul actually has 2 peaks – Little Rintoul and Mt. Rintoul. I had to cross both today. It was a long hot climb to the peak and I took a break at the top. There were some other hikers there and I got my picture on the peak. Unfortunately this was only the first peak. I still had to drop 200m (650’) and then climb back up 300m (1000’)
I started down the steep rock trail and reached the saddle and started climbing back up the other side. This was all above treeline and was really hot in the afternoon sun. By the time I reached Mt. Rintoul peak I was totally wore out. I also finished the last of my water and was still thirsty. I took a pretty good break at the top, but only had 1.7km to make it to the hut. I finally got myself up and headed down the trail.
This section of trail was covered in scree – small rocks that slide down the hill with each step. It was like walking downhill in snow. Each step would slide another 4-6” before settling in. Unfortunately it very slow going because you have to maintain your balance as you slowly slide down the hill one step at a time.
I reached the hut about 5:30 pm, setup my tent and cooked my dinner. I also drank 3 liters of water while doing these things. I think I was a little thirsty. Other hikers came in as the evening progressed and we all sat around and talked until hiker midnight and everyone turned in for the night.
The Richmond Range has been both beautiful and hard so far and the next 4 days will probably be the same.