Distance covered today: 32 km
Total TA distance covered: 2297 km
Just short of 2300 km.
I woke to what would be another stunning day. A few clouds about, glowing bright pinks and reds in the pre-dawn sky.
I had a big day planned to set myself up with plenty of time to cross the Rangitata River tomorrow, another hazrad zone. I was aiming for around 30 km today.
From my camp site the trail continued through thick tussocks and speargrass, climbing to Clents Saddle. After experiencing the spiky spaniard yesterday I made sure I had long gaiters today and did not regret it.
Approaching the top of the saddle there was a series of scree slopes to sidle across.
Across these it was back into more tussocks and a climb down along ridges to the valley floor. I met up with a junction to Double Hut but it was a good kilometre off track. Normally I would visit each hut and sign into the intentions book but it was going to chew into my day and I opted to skip it, instead continuing towards Manuka Hut.
From the Double Hut junction the trail picked up an old track, partially on an old stoney river bed and other times through short tussocky country. The walking was easy and fast on the flat valley floor. Along the way several mapped lakes were shown but these turned out to be dry this year and looked more like salt pans.
As with Double Hut I got to the junction of Manuka Hutband made the same call. Rather than walk in 500 m for a 1 km round trip, I skipped it and kept going, continuing through tussocks as the old track petered out. Up and over a hill I was treated to some stunning views north. Snow capped mountains forming the back drop to Lake Emily in the foreground and Castle Ridge Station.
Once into the farming property the walking was quick again as the trail picked up a farm road to follow for the next 4.5 km out to a gravel road.
From the road I started to get a bit tired. More road walking but only short. Gravel roads dont make for the most enjoyable walking and I plodded along. Although I wasn’t expecting much traffic, it wasn’t the widest of roads and walking in the middle is easier than on the loose gravel edges. If there was some sort of verge to walk on I would have put my ipod on to listen to some music, podcast or audio book to make the kilometres go quicker but I judged it too risky with the odd vehicle coming through, particularly the ones from behind. I don’t want tonget cleaned up by a vehicle. It was a good 5 km of road walking before Te Araroa headed off again.
I’m loving the wide valley scenery as it makes for big 360 degree views but one issue I am finding is the lack of shade for my pale arsed skin. With the sun out in force there is nowhere to hide. I’d normally make like a lizard, darting in and out of the sun all day but out here it is exposed all the time. Some come rest break time I try and seek out what ever shade there may be, whether than be an isolated tree, small shrub or in my next case a bridge.
At the end of the road bash i was desperate for a long, cool break and found one. Like a good hobo, I sort out the shelter underneath a small bridge over the Ashburton River. Perfect. Cool, dark, out of the sun and out of the strong wind that had picked up. Also an opportunity for a quick dip and restock of water. I throughly enjoyed a nice half hour break.
For the rest of the day I was going to just keep walking until I’d had enough and found a nice flat site to pitch my tent. Tussocks don’t provide the best opportunities for camp sites as there just arent that many gaps of cleared space between the plants.
Leaving my bridge and getting off road again, I stuck my ipod in for some motivation and pushed on another 6.5 km to a nice location on the edge of Paddle Hill Creek, nestled in a valley between Dogs Hill and Mount Guy, both over 1000 metres. I would have loved to have pushed the extra few kilometres to reach the 2300 km mark but just didn’t have it in me today. 32 km is not a bad effort though.