|Beautiful Lake Rotoiti - the start of the Nelson Range|
He is anxious to post another blog as soon as possible but, in the meantime, Jamie & I are putting this out to let followers know what has been happening.
The challenge for the support team has been to find a way in to the remote national parks to resupply Jez. However the effort has been worthwhile each time just to witness Jez's delight & relief that we had made it to the agreed meeting points. Initially I assumed that he was pleased to see us, but soon realised that it was the food that we had bought him that he was excited about!
On the first occasion we walked in to Mid Wairoa Hut using a challenging & dangerously eroded path up the gorge. We thought that Jez might stay there that night but, no, he had decided to get to Upper Wairoa Hut, & soon he disappeared off into the gloom for another late finish after dark. The team returned down the valley but I stayed at the hut overnight not wanting to risk the precipitous path after dark. The long walk down through Wairoa Gorge the next morning was magical as it passed numerous waterfalls & emerald green swimming holes.
On the next occasion Jamie set off with the photography team to link up the following day by driving in, walking over a pass, & camping out overnight. Sandflies were the team's unwelcome guests (& they have become our constant companions every time we dare to step out of the van!) but Jamie had a successful rendezvous with Jez.
Yesteday we were off again in the photographer's car after deciding that we could not risk taking our camper van along the track towards Lake Sumner. After a 2-hour drive we found ourselves on a very difficult track negotiating one large, deep, water-filled hole after another. All credit to our Subaru 4WD estate & expert driver, Matteo, who got us to within about 12km of the Hurunui Hut, our agreed meeting point. Jez had decided to 'run light' & my job was to deliver his pack ((containing all his overnight kit & food) to the hut. Without the pack he would be in serious difficulty.
|Looking back towards Lake Sumner|
Fortunately the trail from the road end was ok for the mountain bike & I was at the hut after 2 hours of cycling through magnificent New Zealand wilderness. The rain & strong wind simply emphasised the remote beauty of the place although it was a relief to gain the sanctuary of the well equipped hut. Jez had not arrived so, after an hour of waiting, I decided to leave the bag & depart so getting back to the car before dark.
On returning to the river, & the suspension bridge over which he would arrive, I had one last look out across the grassy meadows. To my relief I spotted a tiny figure in the distance. It was Jez! I watched him approach & cross the bridge. He was very relieved to see me & know that his much-needed supper was awaiting him at the hut. We chatted briefly & then went our separate ways.
|Jez arriving below Hurunui Hut|
That was 7.30pm but he wasn't finished for the day! I had a satellite phone call from him at 10pm to say that he was 1k from the next hut where he intended to stop for the night.
|On the way back to the car|
Tomorrow he is due to reach Arthur's Pass, to be reunited with his wife of 2 months, Gemma, who has just arrived from the UK. It will be a very special day for them both.