Te Araroa Trail – Day 91
Tuesday February 6, 2024
Distance/ Total: 22.0 km / 13.7 mi
Camping by the Travers River last night meant I woke up to a wet tent this morning. I wiped everything down, packed up and hit the trail about 7:20am.
From John Tait hut it is a 1000m (3,300’) climb to the Travers saddle. The climb up is 8.5km (5.3mi) long and it starts out with some gradual ascents as the trail follows the Travers River. As the trail continues the river becomes steeper and I’m awarded with some great waterfalls and cascades along the climb.
Most of the climb is in trees and the trail climbs up and around rocks and tree roots as it makes it ascent. The sounds of the rushing water is always nearby and the river was flowing very rapidly.
After reaching Travers Hut (6.3km) the trail begins a steep climb up to the saddle. The trail is now above treeline and becomes a scramble over large boulders in places. The trail is marked with poles and many times you can make your own route to the next pole.
As I continued to climb to the saddle the trail crossed a stream that was literally flowing from the rocks. I stopped and filled up my water bottle and drank my fill of this ice cold spring water.
The saddle had several “false summits” and each time I thought I reached the top another hill appeared. I finally made it to the saddle and took a couple of pictures from the top.
The trail down the mountain was just as tough. There were several areas where I scrambled over large boulders and lots of steep rutted trail leading downward. I reached treeline and it got a little better as the tree roots provided a little extra traction. The trail descended down a ridgeline and it seemed to take forever to reach the river at the bottom.
I followed the East branch of the Sabine River downstream for a couple of kilometers then turned and followed the west branch back upstream. Shortly after turning up the west branch I reached the West Sabine Hut and crossed a suspension bridge across the river.
The trail followed the river closely for the next 7 kilometers and I had lots of streams to hop across. The trail was now almost entirely on the side of the hill alongside the river. The river was roaring by very fast as it rushed downstream. As the trail climbed upwards toward blue lake the river had many cascades and waterfalls as I walked beside it.
I reached the Blue Lake Hut about 6:30pm and found a spot in the trees to setup my tent. I went to the hut, cooked dinner, and visited with some of the other hikers. There were lots of people there that I’ve met before. I finished eating and returned to my tent ready to clean up and turn in for the night.