Slaty Hut to Mt Rintoul Hut – 13km (1864km total)
Today was both a pretty amazing day and a crazy day.
Climbing up from Slaty Hut brought us out onto the ridge line with the most amazing morning views of the Richmond Ranges in the morning light. I was stopping every 5 minutes to take photos. The track ascended and descended along the ridge line, back into forest and out into the open and then back again for most the morning but nothing too strenuous. There were only a couple of sections where the trail went over rocky outcrops that I stood and thought, ‘you want me to go up there!?’ But overall it was pretty easy.
By lunch time we had made it to the summit of little Rintoul. The track notes mention that the next section is one of the most technical on the trail. So I was a little concerned about it. Walking I can do. Rock climbing I can’t. Trail inbetween those to extremes cause me to stumble around like a baby giraffe to a lesser or greater extent.
The climb down from little Rintoul was the worst. It was all loose rock and scree, with a couple of rock ledges that required me getting down onto my butt and scooting down because there was no way my legs were long enough to step down. Then there was only one rock out face that required some vague climbing. Again I climbed down half of it then butt scooted my way to the bottom, and when I say bottom I mean the next steep rock scree trail. At points I was thankful that I had done the GR20 in Corsica, all the rock scrambling there mentally prepared me to know that if I had done that I could do this as well.
The climb up to Mt Rintoul, the highest yet at 1731m was better, there was still loose scree, but that is easier to climb up then down. There were also sections with bigger more stable rocks that made climbing slightly easier, but it was still steep.
There have been fires burning down on the plains around the Richmond Ranges for the last few days so as the day went on the smoke got worse and there wasn’t much of a view from the summit, but I enjoyed just sitting there anyway.
Then came the climb down to the hut. It was better track than going down from little Rintoul but was just as tiring. This scree was thicker/deeper, which meant you could almost ski down it at times, but it was steeper again and in that one section I managed to slip onto my butt 4x, which isn’t all that impressive given my butt was almost on the ground because of how steep it was. Then once back in tree line the trail continued steeply down and by the time I got to the hut, I just wanted to take my shoes off to give my toes a break from being forced against the front of my shoe.
But good news, I’m alive and nothings broken! First technical part of the trail on the South Island done and dusted. 🎉
Today I am thankful for morning Mountain View’s and chocolate to eat after a lovely but crazy day.