It was cold last night and I had to pull my sleeping bag over my heas for the first time in ages. I guess you expect it to be a little colder when you are at 1300 meters high with a thick damp mist. The wind picked up in the morning which shook the moisture that had been gently collecting in the tree leaves down onto my tent like rain.
I woke up at my normal time but as it was cold and misty I decided to stay in bed in the hope the sun would burm the mist away. Eventually I decided it would not happen and packed up. I was cold by the time I was done so was glad to get moving to warm up.
The track headed up through the trees for 15 minutes before emerging into the open and a sunny cloudless day. As I climbed it was great to look at the mist below blanketing everything. The climb was steadily up but fast going. I got into a good rhythm and was up Little Rintoul quickly. I spent some time there taking in the views and taking photos. It was a little intimidating looking at what I was climbing next, more so looking at the descent to get there which was 250 vertical metres in about 800 meters.
I was very glad to have that finished and start the climb up Mt Rintoul. Just as I came around the corner to start the climb I spotted people ahead. They must have always been just around the corner for me not to have seen them earlier. With targets acquired my competitive streak was ignited and with a hill in front of me this time I could not reign it in. I stormed up the hill and caught two of them just short of the top. Dave and Rose had camped just a little bit further up the track last night. I have been following their Hut Book entries and was keen to meet more kiwi TA trampers. The other guy had stayed at Old Man Hut so started his day with 250 metre climb just to get back to the track. He had walked past my tent while I was lazing in bed.
After sitting for a while absorbing the fantastic views I started the descent. This was one downhill that I did enjoy. The surface was easy for the first part then there was a scree slope that I could bound down. Scree is loose rock that is deep so you can jump on it and you slide a little before stopping. The technique for descending this is to bound down digging your heels in it letting yourself slide as you are taking the next step. It is a fast and fun way to descend. At the bottom of this it was into the tree line for a short time and then I arrived at the hut, scaring two goats who were there. Start to Rintoul Hut 3 hours 10 minutes.
I signed in and was off. 5 minutes from the hut was a large area of storm damage and fallen trees. The trail disappeared so I decided to go around it and pick up the trail and followed the logical route to the left and picked up the track quickly. From there was a big climb up Purple Hill.
The track descended and then sidling around Bishop's Knob and down , up, down etc along a ridgeline. Coming down I saw the water of the Tarn (mountain pond) before arriving at the junction. I headed down to the tarn and then followed it around to the right to the hut (3 hours from Rintoul Hut). Tarn Hut was not righ on the tarn but onlt 20 meters away through the trees. The tarn was much bigger than I expected and personally I would call it a lake.
It was only 1530 so I decided to push on to the next Hut. After climbing back up to the ridge I followed this to a junction then sidled around the side of a hill before descending down to the Wairoa River. This section took longer than I expected (2 hours and 30 minutes) I was happy to reach the hut.
At Mid Wairoa Hut was a french man who was intending to do Te Araroa South Island nut was having to head to the nearest town as he had run out of food. He was staying in his tent. Also there was a British guy, Nick, who came to NZ regularly to go tramping who I talked with while preparing and eating dinner.
As it got dark we put our food away as the hut book warned of mice. I packed everything into my pack and put it on a bench next to me. As soon as we were in our sleeping bags the noise started. There were two mice. One was scrambling arount in the rubbish people had left in the fireplace. The other one for some reason liked the sleeping platform. I could hear it moving over my pack and then up past my head to the sleeping platform and back and forth between nick and I. Worried that they would chew through my pack I got up and hung it high. The mice stayed noisy and it was not a great sleep.