Rintoul Hut to. Mid Wairoa Hut – 15km (1879km total)
Last night a crazy guy came into the hut around 9pm just as the last light was disappearing. Slept on the floor because all the beds were taken, then left again at 4am. Supposedly he was chasing sunsets and sunrises, as he headed northbound, but he wasn’t going to get it as he headed up Rintoul today.
I headed out hours later and the mountain was still socked in by fog, which was fine for the initial ascent through the forest, however, once out of tree line that is when the fun began. It was so foggy that at times it was hard to see the next orange pole. I just kept following the trail on the ground and then would search ahead for the next marker. There were a few times that I couldn’t see it and just kept marching on what I hoped was the trail before spying the marker and then walking confidently towards it, or as confidently as you can when walking on an exposed mountain top in the fog over boulders. 😬
As the morning went of the clouds lifted a bit, but it was still pretty cloudy and the views were not great. However, most of the day was in forest so it didn’t matter. Just before lunch we made it to Tarn Hut which was on a lake, which I wasn’t expecting. I was expecting just a little tarn.
At the hut we had an early lunch and meet two Irish girls who were just leaving the hut for the day. After Tarn Hut, the track became ‘fun’ again and by fun I mean ‘argh, why, why TA do you do this too me!? For about 1km the track ran across the side of the mountain in the forest, which meant the track wasn’t flat, but sloping down the mountain as you traveled horizontally across it, which always make me feel like I’m going to slide down. Then the trail flattened out horizontally, but went steeply down the mountain. That section I found worse than on Rintoul. Maybe because I was prepared for Rintoul and know it would be tough. But I wasn’t prepared for what should be normal track in a forest to descend me almost vertically down.
Once at the hut, it was a party. The French couple from the night before were there. Then the Americans arrived. One who has been doing the whole trail and the other who had joined him just for this section. Then the Irish girls arrived. It was a fun time talking about the trail and how the TA just throws you in the deep end of everything. Mud, rocks, roots, ascents, descents, all of which would not be found on many other trails. It is fun to laugh at the shared craziness of this trail that we have all experienced.
Today I am thankful for the comraderrie of shared experiences.