Day 83: St Arnaud to John Tait Hut

Distance travelled today: 24 km

Total TA distance covered: 1965 km

A bit of everything.

After a nice big breakfast at the lodge with lots of fruit, yoghurt, toast and croissants with Sven and Catherine I hit the trail. A latish start for me not getting away until around 9am but the first half of the day was mostly flat and straight forward. I’d walked the first 15 km previously on a part circuit on the Travers-Sabine a few years ago and it was familiar ground. The trail from St Arnaud to Lakehead Hut is very popular with day trippers and was a good quality track. Flat, wide and gravelled for good chunks, with the odd sections a bit wet with water seeping from banks and following the line of least resistance, which happens to be the track.

I made it Lakehead Hut in just over 2 hours having followed the track right around one side of Lake Rotoiti. I normally stop at every hut and sign into the intentions book but with 3 toilets outside this hut I knew it was heavily visited and the hut book would be full of trashy writing, written by day trippers. I’d previously stayed at this hut as well and had a good idea of what the hut book would be like so moved on.

From Lakehead hut the trail moved away from the lake, into grasslands up the narrowly valley. Tall peaks crowding the edges of the valley and rising 1000m straight up. The walking was fast on the flat grasslands and I pressed on a few kilometres until the track crossed a dry river bed and moved into the trees. I pulled up under the shade of a beech tree in the river bed and had a bite to each for lunch.

Moving on a few more kilometres the sound of fast rushing waters of the Travers River increased as I got closer and the trail crossed over the river on a swing bridge. All this ground was familiar to me but would move into new terrain on the opposite side.

The trail gave up a bit of everything as it lead south, working its way up the valley following the edge of the Travers River. From flat, beech leaf covered sections of the highest quality; to rooty sections; to dry shingle river beds; sidles with steep drops; and scrambles of old avalanches, the variety of the trail kept things interesting. It crossed the river itself a couple of times but all on sturdy bridges.

I reached John Tait Hut in the early afternoon and decided I’d done enough today.

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