Nichols Hut to Parawai Hut – 19km (1572km total)
Sitting out the cloud the other day at the hut was a good idea. I awoke to another beautiful day. I looked out the window of the hut and saw a pink sky and slid out of bed to take a photo.
As I started the climb up out of the hut we soon warmed up as the sun hit the mountain peaks. It was a 3km ridge line walk to the summit of Mt Crawford. At 1462m elevation it is the highest point on the trail yet and the highest point the Te Araroa crosses on the North Island. The ridge line walk was very nice compared to yesterday, the difference of not doing it in the wind. It was pleasant walking up and wasn’t as steep or as exposed as I was expecting. At the top we had a reception party on our phones and I tried to perfect my jump shot. It failed, but one day I will get the perfect jump shot.
It was then more ridge walking before entering back into the bush. Once back in tree line the trail descended down to 380m (over 1000m descent) and was continuous steep down. It felt like I was descending into the depths of the earth. There were a few trees down that I had to scramble over and a few sections of pure slippery mud, for a few meters down that I decided to just slide down on my butt, rather than slip over and slide anyway. Between my pants, socks and shoes, whatever washing machine gets the pleasure of washing those at the end of this will be pure black water.
The trail finally stopped defending and came out at Waitewaewae Hut, which was a lovely hut situated on the river. I was tempted to go for a swim, but knew if I did that I would never make it to the next hut. So instead it was just a lunch stop.
The next hut was on 10km away, but there was a detour onto another track due to a slip on the trail. This detour was meant to add an hour to the time and was said to take 5-7 hours to do those 10km. The detour was not fun. It added about a 1km to the total distance and some elevation as well. Through in rocks, mud and roots, which is normal on these tracks to make you do a 2km and hour pace, but then there was a lot of down trees as well to scramble around, over, under. I felt like I was doing gymnastics on the trail. At one point, I looked at the fallen tree and just laughed. The only way was over it but it was a mess of branches and vines. I climbed up the 1.5m and battled my way through the vines before sliding down the other side. I question Tarzan. How in the world did he get a clear path to swing on a vine, because me experience of vines is a tangled mess!
Finally, I made it through the detour and down to the hut in just over 5 hours, which I was impressed with. I was expecting my uncoordinated limbs to take the full 7 hours.
Today I am thankful for amazing ridgeline views of spectacular mountains.