Start: Bush Stream car park (2,319km)
Finish: Camp Stream Hut (2,357km)
Distance for the day: 38km
Cumulative distance: 2,357km
Still battling the suspected giardia overnight, but feeling sufficiently recovered to put in a long day of ‘hard tramping’ across the Two Thumb Range, I set off half an hour later than planned at 6.30am. It was a clear, starry night, but very chilly to get going in the morning. I felt awful on waking and it was a real effort getting my kit and body together and out the door! Possibly the hardest morning so far.
|Heading off at 6.30am for the 43km pass over the Two Thumbs Range|
I knew it was going tough leg and so it proved to be. It was going to be all about hiking - not really much chance of running with the terrain - or the way I was feeling - but the trick would be to keep moving consistently to have any chance of achieving the 43km distance accross the full leg. I had struggled to eat much breakfast in the morning as I was still feeling very unsettled in the stomach, so energy levels were low from the off which meant I was on the back foot all day.
The first section was the hardest of all, another upstream, mostly in the river, ascent. The Bush Stream which the route followed was high and crossings were not straight forward due to the flow but I negotiated them all safely, and travelling upstream, you always know that the size of the stream will only get smaller (or faster flowing?!).
Elsewhere the going was rough bush with no track, but the route marked by orange topped marker poles. I was thankful of the clear and sunny weather – most of the time – but not so good for hydration and an already weary body.
By late afternoon I had reached the start of the climb up to the high point of the whole of Te Araroa – Stag Saddle – at 1,925m. I desperately wanted to get up there before it got dark and succeeded with ease, but I still had a reasonable chunk of distance to cover before reaching the Round Hill ski road meeting point. It was a beautiful evening to be out in the mountains, the sunset providing a wonderful glow, and the views across to Lake Tepako, my ultimate destination, were out of this world.
But as the light faded the going got tougher and slower, and mentally rather challenging. There weren’t any marker poles to follow but the GPS guided me well. I knew the temperature would drop off quickly – and it did – so I put on all the spare clothes I had to fight to keep warm. That was now the biggest battle, maintaining an adequate body temperature, but it required constant movement which is not easy on rough ground, and descending. The kilometers were passing by all too slowly but I was still making progress. There were still one or two options with huts on the route, so I kept those in mind for the 11pm+ period when I knew it would be all I craved and needed. I decided that if I arrived at Camp Stream Hut, 4km from the finish, and the track didn’t improve by then, I would let the team know that I would spend night there and do the sensible thing in getting myself warm. By the time I did arrive there I was the ‘wrong side’ of being cold, so I made the decision to crash down in the hut. I left satellite phone messages for the guys.
Removing my wet shoes and socks was a great relief, and once I did that and got inside my sleeping bag, I soon warmed up, and slept deeply. It was a real relief. What a day.
|Camp Stream Hut - just 4km from the support crew - but where I spent the night to stay warm|