I was out the door at 0850 with my rain jacket and two layers of gloves on as it was cold outside and the freezing wind was still there. I left later thinking the sun would help warm me up but the wind countered the effects and I was in the shade for long periods.
The first section was the most dramatic descent of the trail and despite my normal dislike of descents I enjoyed this one. It was steep and alongside rocky cliffs with views over Lake Hawea. The descent was 950 vertical meters over 3.5 km. Surprisingly my knees didn't hurt until the last section where the angle eased off.
At the lake level I walked 1 km on a gravel road before heading for the Gladstone Trail along the lake edge. There was a toilet at the start that had toilet paper in it so I know that I am back in civilisation. The trail was easy to walk on for the next 7 m but was made challenging by the wind. I am sure if someone was watching me they would have thought I was drunk as I lurched along. I would be bracing into the wind when it would die off and I would now be off balance and stagger to the side. The same would happen when the wind returned and I was not braced for it. Surprisingly there were a couple of locals doing return daily walks.
In Hawea I was hoping to spot a shop to buy a pie but there none on the trail. Now after a 1 km road transit I was on the Hawea River Trail for the next 11 km. There were several mountain bikers and near a road crossing I watched a guy river surfing, or rather try to. The first 8 km went quickly but the rest dragged on, probably as I was in a flat but again with Albert Town in sight and not getting any closer. It started raining again and stopped after a couple of minutes but my jacket stayed on sure to the cold wind.
After finally arriving in Albert Town I went to the tavern for lunch of a bowl of hot chips, a cajun chicken pizza, cranberry juice and cupaccino. Delicious and friendly service.
Now pleasantly full I started on the Upper Clutha River Trail. I am not sure if it was the satisfied belly or the caffine choosing around Mt body but I really enjoyed this trail. It was not as manicured as the other shared use trails and had a huge variety of vegetation and geology in a short space.
After 4 km of bliss it was back to gravel road and manicured shared paths but I was still really enjoying myself and note had lake Wanaka to look at.
It seemed like no time until I was in Wanaka at the YHA Backpackers explaining that I was a day early. I had not taken into account that it was Waitangi Day, a public holiday, and therefore a long weekend. The YHA was full and so were the other backpackers which the guy at reception was good enough to ring for me. Finally the was a private room for $80 which I took at Matterhorn South. The luxury was complete when I saw towels were provided and the shower pressure and temperature perfect.
I went to the movie theatre Paradise Cinema to get tickets for Wild which is a movie about a lady doing Pacific Crest Trail, a long hike. They were sold out but I put my name down as standby. I then walked around town for a look and saw Fred and Nev. They were just about to head back out on the trail after a quick dinner.
I went shopping and then had dinner before relaxing with a book until 2050 when I headed back to the theatre and was in luck getting into the movie. It was okay and funny in bits relating to her being so unprepared for the trail.
Then back to luxuriate in my double sized bed.