Blue Lake Hut to Waiau Hut – 16km (1996km total)
I made it over Waiau pass! Waiau Pass was one of the sections of the trail that I was most worried about. The trail notes make it seem like it would be a death defying experience and I had seen photos and videos of it which made it seem like rock climbing, which we all know I can’t do. However, it wasn’t too bad and I lived to tell the tale.
The morning started with a climb up to Lake Constance. The trail went above the lake, along a scree slope and then steeply down again to the lake shore. The scramble up the scree slope I actually found worse than Waiau Pass. The walk along the lake shore and up the river was nice and flat. Then the climbing began. From 1350m to 1870m over 1.5km. It was pretty much straight up, some of it on scree, some of it on dirt. It was ok going up, but I wouldn’t have like to have come down it. There would have been little grip.
At the top of Waiau Pass, it was cold. Even thou I brought out the jacket and gloves, I couldn’t rest for long or I would have got too cold. So I started the descent down. I told my friends that I would be waiting for the at the first rock face that needed to be climbed down, as I wasn’t convinced that I could do it without help. But the places that required some climbing, were not vertical, so I could butt scoot down a lot of them and I am a butt scooting pro. It is how I did a large proportion of the GR 20 in Corsica.
Once down the track actually got harder for about 2-3km with a lot of rocks to climb over along the side of the river. Climbing over rocks always slows me down. However, once that passed, the track went through forest and grass and I could actually stride out and walk for the last 4ish km to the hut.
Waiau Hut is a lovely little 6 bunk hut, with the worst sandflies of any hut I have been in yet. I don’t know where they are getting in, but as I sit and type this I am covered head to toe in clothing and have a a swarm of little black things just flying around me and resting on my clothing hoping to drink my blood. It is like I’m in Twilight! 😠 I initially went crazy trying to kill all the little suckers and I reckon, I killed close to 50 of them, but more just came. So gave up. However, others are now in the hut doing the same thing as I was. Every 30 seconds there is a bang, as they attempt to squash the little suckers. I think we are doomed to be in sandflies hell tonight.
Today I am thankful for mountain passes that are easier than expected.