Te Araroa Trail – Day 88
Saturday February 3, 2024
Distance/ Total: 14.3 km / 8.9 mi
The hut was pretty quiet this morning. I was the second person up and carried my gear out to the porch to pack it up. The rain was supposed to start even earlier today and I had a longer distance to go.
I started up the trail a little before 7:00am. The skies were filled with dark clouds and rain was inevitable. I barely walked 1/2 km before it started sprinkling on me. I held off putting on my raincoat since I was walking uphill, but eventually had to stop and put it on.
The trail had several mid-sized climbs today and at the bottom of each was a stream. With the rain yesterday the streams were fuller than normal and rock hopping across was not an option. I just had to walk through with my shoes on. Despite the rain yesterday the trail was surprisingly dry. The surface was wet, but not a lot of puddles on the trail. The rain actually made some of the steep downhill on loose dirt seem a little easier.
There were about 4 smaller streams to cross before I reached the large stream. This stream had a warning about water levels after a big rain so I was a little concerned. I crossed it without any issues and it was only knee deep.
Fortunately I was across that stream before the heavier rain began. As I climbed upwards for the 4th or 5th time today the rain was accumulating on the trail and turning it into a small stream.
About 1.5km from the Red Hills Hut I could see it across the valley. It looked like a quick hike to get there. Unfortunately the water was flowing down the mountain from all directions. The trail was now flooded and the small streams were getting pretty wide. I reached a tussick field that was now a swamp. I waded across following the trail where I could and detouring to high ground as needed. There was a deep drainage cut through the tussicks and it looked to be about waist deep now. I followed the flow upstream until I found an area that was narrow enough to jump across.
As I approached the hut the sun came out and it looked like it was going to be a nice day. The Red Hills Hut is only 1.5 hours walk from a parking area making it popular for people to hike up and spend a night in the hut. It was Saturday and the hut was already full at noon when I arrived by a group of girls who had hiked up for the night.
I continued up the trail knowing there would be some “wild camping” options in the next section. About the time I started up the trail the rain started up again. I continued on for about 3 km and found a nice flat spot behind some trees on a ridgeline. The view was fantastic, but I was more interested in getting out of the rain. I setup my tent crawled inside and changed into my dry clothes. I crawled into my sleeping bag to get warm.
It didn’t take long to warm up and I spent the afternoon reading, planning the next section of trail, and even looking over my PCT resupply plan I had put together for last year.
About 5:00pm the rain had finally stopped and I got out to find some water. I was on the ridgeline so I had to go down a little ways to find a small stream. I took a few pictures and then crawled back in the tent to escape the cold wind on the mountain.
Tomorrow I have 9km to a paved road, then 8km into the town of St Arnaud where I have a bunk reserved for the night. I’m looking forward to a shower, clean clothes, and real food.