Friday, 30 January 2015

Day 90. Comyns Hut to Clearwater Track.

Today 37 km. Total 2281 km. 11 hours 30 minutes (0710-1840).

I was up early today and I think it was the wind that woke me.  I had no mice last night which surprised me.

At 0710 I headed off up Round Hill Creek which in the course of 2.5 hours I crossed 51 times.  I was counting!  The creek started narrow but then widened slightly to allow some grass and rock travel out of the Creek bed. Overall it was quite tiring but quite fun. I found the marker poles were ok and it was clear when to leave the creek and start climbing

The track

Crossing no 1

The track

Crossing no 21

The climb from the creek to Clent Hills Saddle was marked with poles which were easy to see, though in mist they would be too far apart.  There was no defined track through the tussock but travel was ok and sometimes there would be a faint trail which was faster to move on. I quite liked having to pick my own path even though it is much more tiring than following an established path. I was glad to have my full gaiters which my parents delivered,  to protect me from the spiky plants. From the saddle there were great views all the way to the flats- different shades of brown as far as I could see.

The track then sidled to the right which is difficult on tussock as it is slippery. I was happy to get onto the scree slope as it's much easier to sidle and the exposure doesn't worry me.  After a few scree slopes and some tussock I arrived at the right ridge and there were people there. It was 3 Americans who are doing Te Araroa Northbound. They introduced themselves by their trail names; Apple Pie, Green Leaf and Burrito. Trail names are common on the American long trails but not so much on this trail. They are at day 36 but have taken some detours to do Routeburn and dome walking around Mt Cook National Park. After a good chat we continued on our way.

Heading up through the tussock and spiky Spaniard

At the saddle. The track goes to the right across the scree

Scree walking

Avalanche damage to marker pole

More tussock and scree sidling

Good track on this scree slope

I started down the ridgeline and then my track spidy senses started to sound the alarm so I checked my map and sure enough I was meant to head right to another ridge. I looked in that direction and saw a marker pole so I had stopped in time to prevent me having to go back up the ridge. I crossed over to where the pole was and continued following then across some gullys and finally up to a saddle before descending down.  I found a great track but it was too high ao I dropped back down to the markers but later saw this track came out in the right place and I could have kept on it - hindsite is frustrating.

Heading down
Once on the flats it was easy walking on a track to the junction to Double Hut.  As the hut is 1 km off the trail I didn't visit it. Now the track was on an old vehicle track and easy going. I stopped for lunch and loved not having peanut butter which I was usung since the Tararuas because it is compact and high energy.  Now I am having cheese, salami and hummus tortillas.

  The two lakes beside the track were both completely dry. I didn't go to Manuka Hut as this was 500 metres off the trail which is too much. The wind had picked up and was now strong.  This was good to keep cool and it was at my back so I didn't mind the extra push down the track.

After a km the track climbed and then sidled down the other side
and then joined a farm track for 3 km. The wind was now coming towards me and it was hard work making forward progress.  This part seemed to take ages.  The scenery is nice but it is all in the distance and doesn't change so progress seems slower. I was nearly out of water as the wind is drying me out and I am drinking more than normal.  Luckily at the farm was a stream which I could use to filter.

Spiky Spaniard

Long flat straight with a nice tail wind

Tiny colour in the brown landscape

Dry lake

The farm track into a head wind

Now there was a 4.4 km road walk which went quickly.  The wind was back behind me except for the last 700 meters.  Along the way a lovely couple stopped to offer me a lift and we chatted for a while.

At the end of the road walk I crossed a bridge and stopped to filter more water, including enough for camp tonight.  I had hoped there might have been some trees at the river I could camp in but no such luck so I started Clearwater Track. This was lovely easy walking across the flats on a nice track. It was still windy and unfortunately a head wind. I decided to reach the hills so I could have some shelter from the wind.

I found a nice spot between some tussock and setup camp.  The view is pretty good.

Signpost just for Te Araroa

Clearwater Track across the windy flats

Night 90

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