Bealey Spur to Hamilton Hut – 20kms
Total – 503kms
There are good days and bad days on the trail. Most days are good. Then there are the occasional days like today that are really good! I enjoyed every moment of it. It was a nice walk down the road to warm up my legs before a long but gradual climb up through beech forest and open tussock around the north face of Mt Bruce and then over Lagoon Saddle. The air was crisp after a good dusting of snow last night on the tops. I reached the snow level at around 1200m elevation. I didn’t think I would get up high enough today. It is weird being in snow at this time of year. It was really beautiful and I had a great view over the valley and back up to Arthur’s Pass. From the saddle I was looking south to the Grey Range and Craigeburn Range.
The track descended down a valley following the Harper River. The snow was melting fast and the river was icy blue. I crossed it a few times. Wet clumps of snow were dropping from branches around me. The track was an easy tramping grade. It was mostly bush but at times I was following cairns down the river bed. The view down the valley was changing constantly every time I came around a bend in the river. I passed three huts before arriving at Hamilton Hut around 4pm.
I knew today would be no more than eight hours maximum so I was able to really take my time and soak in the experience. While I was still up in the snow, Vesna caught up to me. We met Vesna on the water taxi on the way to Ship Cove. We caught up later at the hut. Scott and Jane also stayed at Hamilton Hut and arrived not long after me. There was another couple on an overnight trip who came in from a different track and then a northbound TA walker arrived at about 6pm.
I forgot to mention on day 30, when I crossed Arthur’s Pass, that I am now back on the eastern side of the Southern Alps.
Tomorrow will be another cruisey day to Harper’s campsite but it is too far too push on and get there today. The day after is a gravel road walk to Lake Coleridge where the trail ends and you need to arrange transport to the trail head on the other side of the Rakaia River.