Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Day 79. Blue Lake Hut to TA km 1991 (5 km south of Caroline Bivy).

Today 18 km. Total 1991 km. 8 hours 50 minutes (0850-1740).

This morning I intended to leave at 0730 but when I woke there was heavy mist so I decided to sleep a bit longer in the hope that it would burn off.  I eventually left at 0850 which is one of my latest starts. The mist had lifted by was still covering the tops of the surrounding mountains.

From the Hut it was a steep climb and looking back I could see all of Blue Lake and with no wind it was mirror smooth.  It was a nice view to start the day and make the hill seem less.  At the top of the hill Lake Constance came into view and it was also very pretty.

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

Heading up to lake Constance

The track went to the right of the lake climbing above the bluffs.  I had read and been warned that this was very tricky and dangerous so I was ready for anything but after the Richmond Ranges this was pretty tame and I wasn't concerned at any stage.  I guess if you are not experienced it could be scary but not for most TA trampers. While on this bit I saw a Kea fly past and later on I could hear one in the rocks below but couldn't see it.

The track leading above lake Constance

Lake Constance

The most challenging part of the track above the lake

Super clear

Nearly at the head of the lake

Once back at lake level the track followed the shore to the Lake head and then headed up the valley crossing a few streams.  Like yesterday I knew I was at the valley end and had to climb but every side looked steep.
I saw what looked to be the track up high but the track started heading away so I started searching the other slopes but then the track turned again and started up a scree slope heading where I thought it was going. Scree is loose rocks and is fun coming down but not so fun going up as every two steps up you lose one sliding back down.  Thankfully there was a narrow grass strip and this was easier climbing.  It was a long way up and I had to stop to take photos a few times (this is a sneaky way to get a rest though the scenery was deserving of multiple photos.

Heading up to the pass. The track goes up the gravel slope

Climbing the scree

Looking back at Lake Constance


Lake Constance from higher

At the top I was surprised to see some snow still there given the scorching temperatures we have been having.  I had to stand in it so now I have stood in snow on the official TA trail in both Islands (Tongariro Crossing was the other).

Snow patch

Panorama from Waiau Pass

Once again I had heard a lot of stories about the nightmare descent so was braced for a challenging descent but I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually ok.  There was one small bit that did require hands and some easy rock climbing but the rest was great.  While it was steep the surface was firm.  It is the descents with slippery gravel or mud that I hate. I took my time going down and my knees were a little sore but nothing like after yesterdays descent.

Coming down from Waiau Pass

Intimidating from above

Rock climbing required

Looking back at what I climbed down

From the bottom of the steep part here the track followed a river down through tussock and then scrub until reaching the bush.

Last part of the descent

Here I crossed the river by jumping across rocks. The track crossed several boulder fields and I found this more tiring than the Waiau Pass I had just completed.  It was hot and this was gaining my energy so I took a long lunch. The trail was along the river sometimes in the bush,  sometimes the river side in the rocks and sometimes over boulder fields so it was slow going but then the valley opened up and the bush tracks became nice and there were grass meadows which had a lovely track through it. I finally reached a stream I couldn't jump across so wet feet now.

Rock fields

Relieved to have easier track

Grassy field ok to travel on

I reached Caroline Bivy which is a tiny two bunk very basic but designed for emergency shelter.

Caroline Bivy

Bivy stands for basic

I signed into the hut book,  on the inside cover as it was full,  and continued on.  I quite liked having the freedom of stopping where I wanted and when I wanted again.  While huts are great they tend to draw me in and I either end up doing a short day or a much longer day than planned to make sure I get to a hut.  There is no need for this as I love my tent but it is hard to resist a hut.  Today Caroline Bivy does not have the same attraction and the next Hut is 28 km away so I am going to camp at around 1730 wherever I am.

From Caroline Bivy the track was largely in the open across Meadows and sometimes through bush.  It was quite fast going. There were a few stream crossings so just as my feet were drying out they got wet again.

Fast easy meadow

Handsome Goat

Close to 1730 I entered some trees so I started looking for a campsite and found a lovely site looking down on the river and up at a mountain. Being higher it took the Sandflys nearly 10 minutes to find me by which time I was safe in my tent.  They are persistent though and glued against my netting.  I sometimes breath my lovely CO2 at them just to tease.

View from my tent - river and mountain

Night 79

It is nice to be back into my tent routine and not have to be considerate of others.

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