I’m typing this after arriving at Slaty Hut. Rachel and I have walked 17.7km thus far today. Over 7 hours of walking up from Aniseed Valley to Hacket Hut, then further up to Starveall Hut and across to Slaty.
We started walking at 6am. It didn’t take us long (a fraction over an hour) to get to Hacket Hut. After a brief break to take on some scroggin and use the toilet we pushed up the creek. It took five crossings before we got our feet wet and after that there were only two more crossings.
After the crossings we headed up (and up) from about 300m all the way up to over 1100m and there was no respite. It was slow going at about 2km/hr.
Not far from Starvaell Hut a helicopter started to drop people further up the mountain and then came up with an under slung load of mountain bikes. We had been walking some pretty technical terrain and neither Rach or I would have been keen riding it. But these brave souls obviously were.
After arriving at Starvaell Hut at 10:45, Rach had a lie down whilst I prepared lunch (venison and rice noodles). This was a nice clean hut with four overnight occupants who were obviously staying another night. We met them later on after they had summitted Mt Starvaell.
We pushed on at midday and not long after leaving, the first of the mountain bikers came through. I paused to take some scenic shots of them riding the amazing terrain and low and behold one of them fell off right in front of me. When you are riding your bike in the middle of nowhere, you don’t expect a photographer to be there, especially if you crash!!!
We pushed on up Mt Starvaell and I got more photos of the rest of the mountain bikers and then we paused at the top and I rung my daughter, Milla. At four years old it made no sense to her as to why I was standing on a mountain. Even more concerning for her was the fact that there was no snow.
From Starvaell we dropped down the far side before traversing up and across the ridge line to Slaty. We made it in about 2:45pm.
After a quick snack of peanut slab, Rach curled up in her sleeping bag for a snooze. She isn’t used to this tramping lark. I took time to read the hut log and saw Ash Whitehead (a cycling friend) was here before me as well as Steve & Tyler (not Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame though), as well as Reset and Pocahontas who have been prominent in previous hut logs as they hike the Te Araroa trail which this tramp forms a leg of.
We will stay here the night and watch the sunset from the summit which is up behind me as I type this on my iPhone. We will drink wine and eat chocolate as we watch the sun set on 2015 over the Kahurangi National Park.
Tomorrow we will get up for the sunrise and watch that from the summit before making our way down to the car park after submitting Mt Starvaell on the way, which we sidled around following the track today.
We travelled relatively light. In our packs we carried a sleeping bag, dehydrated food for three days, a stove, two gas canisters. Clothes wise we had long johns, long sleeve merino and a jacket as well as the clothes we are wearing. Tramping in light weight trail running shoes is perfectly fine at this time of year when conditions are suitable.
Food wise I have a bottle of Shingle Peak Pinot and a block of Whittakers Berry Chocolate to share whilst watching the sunset this evening. Rach doesn’t know about these yet. The food we have is a mix of Back Country and Gourmet Outdoors dehydrated food. It’s light and easy to prepare. Simply boil some water, tear open the packet, add water and mix. Seal the packet and leave for ten minutes. Ready to eat. I’ve also got a big bag of scroggin, a few Ems Power bars and Clif bars, supplemented with fresh bananas.
Water wise we are reliant on what we have on the route. We each carry a 750ml bottle that we top up at each hut. If we were to go past this hut there is no water to source for the next five hours so we would top up a 3 litre bladder that we are each carrying along with our bottle.
The back country huts up here are basic in nature but more than ample providing great shelter. All the huts through here are very similar to Slaty hut with a rain water tank, long drop toilet about 60m away, bunk beds to sleep six with mattresses, candle holders and a fire place. There is a wood shed here with minimal wood prepared.
Well that is enough to write for now. I might go cut some wood so when it’s pouring with rain and some poor soul turns up they have something to get started with to warm up.