Top Wairoa Hut to Porters Creek Hut – 19kms
The rain had stopped but it was still misty and low visibility. After pulling on my ‘still wet boots’ we were climbing up to Mt Ellis summit straight out of the gate. For some time there was no real track to follow and only marked out by orange poles which were only just visible in the fog. About half of the way up to the saddle was rock hoping on red boulder fields and then some areas of boggy tussock. There was water and streams coming out of the ground everywhere. My boots were full of water again, mostly from the due on the tussock running down my legs. I wished I had used my gaiters. I reached the saddle first with Dave and Molly and we did not wait for Curtis and Matt as it was really exposed there to the cold wind. We carried on up towards the summit. It was a gradual climb and not too challenging at all. Once at the top we had no views at all as the cloud was still low over the tops. We started to make our way down to the tree line and waited there for the other two. There was a long descent and a few stream crossings then a nice little climb up to Hunters Hut that got the heart and lungs going again. We stopped at the hut for lunch and I had a chance to air out my feet and boots. By now the sun was out and it turned into a really nice day.
Hunters Hut opened in 1997 and is a memorial to Department of Conservation staff members Russell Griebel and Bob Waldie, both of whom died on duty when Bush Edge Hut was destroyed in a flash flood. Remnants of the old hut were still visible in the trees as we crossed the river.
The second half of the day was much the same terrain, still walking through the mineral belt. Similar to what I would imagine the surface of Mars to look like. There were several steep ascents and descents. Every day I amaze myself at what my body is capable of. That I can spend hours on end powering up hill after hill, no matter how hard it is I just keep pushing through it, keep digging it in until the next top and then catch my breath on the way back down before the next one. There were plenty of stream crossings again. I am not carrying water now and just have a good drink at a stream when I need to. My pack feels so much lighter without it and I can move quicker and have better balance. Not bothering to filter water now out of these streams either because there should be no need to up here. The water tastes so great and is so fresh and cold. I really need to loose a few things that might not be essential to further lighten up my pack so am thinking that through now. Its not too bad but could be lighter. Less food for a start and being smarter with water when there are plenty of rivers or streams on route.
I finished the day walking with Ardie to Porters Creek Hut. Finished by 4pm. Everyone else were not far behind. We sat around, took turns washing with a big tin bowl and tank water. Feels great to have a wash each day to get off all the sweet and wash dirty feet. We had plenty of time to rinse out some clothing and hang them out to dry. My boots finally got dry in the sun and my socks. That’ll be nice to start in the morning. I am having trouble with my insoles coming loose and scrunching up under my feet. Only when they are wet. Might need to put the new soles in again. They were causing a blister before but after seeing Curtis’ giant one on the back of his heal I felt ok about my little one that has mostly healed.
This Hut is good. We were lucky to get a bed each in the hut tonight. Last night 12 people slept here and its only a 6 bunk room. Had our dinners and chatted away. I had a few cups of tea and and extra packet of noodles with dinner. My main meal was a Creamy Carbonara dehydrated meal. I threw another packet of noodles to Curtis as well. We played some more cards and laughed about the trail notes describing the last section as having “undulating hills”. That was too much of a nice word for what we experienced.
So last day tomorrow and it will be a biggy to get out of here plus an 8km road walk in to St Arnaud. I doubt I will be finishing all that in under 10 hours. I will be motivated though to get out the other side and to be able to call home to Katie and the kids.
I have been having some broken sleeps with tightness and pain in my upper glutes and general stiffness in my muscles. Makes me toss and turn all night and can’t get comfortable. Ardie showed me a new stretch which was really great tonight so see how it goes. Trying not to take ibuprofen every night.