Royal Hut to Richmond Track – 23kms
Total – 667kms
We got an early start and were heading out of the hut just before 7am. It was very cold and I had to put socks on my hands because my fingers were frozen. My feet were also frozen from walking up a stream as soon as we left the hut. I am trying my trail running shoes for this section and they are not waterproof. They dry faster once they are wet but don’t insulate your feet at all. They are also feeling a bit too tight so I will switch back to boots in a few days.
It was a long climb up to Stag Saddle, the highest point of the whole TA at 1925 meters above sea level. We were up there by 9am. From the saddle I was looking south down to Lake Tekapo but it was under a blanket of cloud at that time. That looked cool anyway. We sat up there for an hour and a half, soaking up the amazing views and drinking hot coffee.
The cloud disappeared as we made our descent so we could see everything. It was the perfect day to be up there. We decided to take an alternative route down that we heard about, following the ridgeline to our right that merges with the TA at the bottom of the valley. We were so pleased we did as we had incredible views all the way down of the lake and across to Mt Cook.
We dropped down into a gorge and stopped at Camp Stream Hut for a break. A very old hut with a reputation for mice infestation. I wouldn’t stay there unless I had to. Then we had a steep climb out of the gorge before coming out at the Roundhill Ski Area. We crossed the road and joined the Richmond track and walked another 4kms until we found a good stream to camp next to at around 5pm. It’s a great spot with views over the lake and ranges. Another day in paradise!