It was a bit of a failed start on Thursday. We got up early and travelled from Hanmer to the Lewis Pass carpark where dad and Janeen set off to complete their four day hike around the St James walkway. The weather was a lot worse up there than in Hamner. The rain was getting heavier, the rivers along side the road were raging (that I needed to cross) and there was heaps of snow all over the mountains. It was hardly recognisable compared to a few days ago when we came through. After dropping dad and Janeen I drove 30kms back to Boyle Village where I was meeting Ricky at the Outdoor Education Centre to start the Arthur’s Pass section. I parked the car and went inside the backpackers accommodation where Ricky was sitting and looking at the latest weather maps. The rain and wind would continue for at least another 24 hours and then another lot of rain is coming on Saturday. The river levels take a few days to drop when it rains like this so we knew we would end up sitting and waiting in a hut for at least three days once we are in there. We both agreed the sensible thing to do is to skip this section and come back to it when there has been a good spell of weather and we made the decision to do that. It was not an easy pill to swallow.
So, now I have four days to kill until dad and Janeen finish their hike. Hanmer is the closest place to stay so I will go back there. Dad and Janeen expect to come out on Sunday to the rental car parked in Boyle but I will need to take it with me. They are also not expecting another lot of bad weather to come through on the weekend. There is no way for me to contact them and let them know the new situation so I decided to drive back to Lewis Pass and catch up to them. They were an hour or so into their hike by the time I got back to the carpark. I jumped out and went double time to catch them! It was really raining at this stage. The tracks had turned into streams and the river was running high through Cannibal Gorge. It took about an hour to catch up to them. When I saw them I called out and they did not recongnise me until I got right behind them. I was the last person they were expecting to see of course and the look on their faces when they realised was priceless! I gave them the update and they were both keen to continue on in the rain as the rivers are bridged and it was still doable. I returned to the car and drove back to Boyle to see if Ricky wanted a ride out. He had already hitched out by then so I continued to Hanmer.
I was feeling frustrated about having to wait for weather to pass again. Not making any progress while I’m missing home and Katie and the kids are waiting for me. I got to work planning out where to from here. I decided on Sunday I would pick dad and Janeen up then travel to Methven and start from the south side of Rakaia River the next day. Then return to Boyle and complete the Arthur’s Pass section the week after. Since then the weather forecast has improved up this end so I am going back to plan A and will continue from Boyle tomorrow.
Yesterday I got an unexpected call from dad saying they came back out the next day and have hitch-hiked to a few kms out of Hanmer so I went and picked them up. There were a few factors that led to their decision to pull out. The weather was bad and didn’t know how much worse it would get and dad had got soaked through yesterday and was not feeling well. It was not only wet but very cold due to all the snow and wind chill. They had a big day ahead if they were to push on and decided to play it safe. Another guy they met had been waiting out the weather for four days at the hut they were aiming for next.
So, I will be able to go into the next section tomorrow, a day earlier than I had planned which is great. I can’t wait to get moving again! I have been doing a bit of walking around Hanmer to keep my muscles from stiffening up but it doesn’t feel like progress.