After a nice curry for dinner last night we set off for the summit of Slaty Peak. Once off the track and onto the ridge line the approach to the summit was very rocky and we needed to be careful with our footing. Once on the summit at 1544m the view was amazing. We could see Blenheim in the distance off to the side of Mt Richmond. We could see Rabbit Island (although Richmond and Nelson were hidden from view in the shadow of the hill). Further out over the Waimea Plains we could see Motueka and Kahurangi National Park as well at Kaiteriteri.
We found a nice comfortable spot and sat down for a glass of wine and some chocolate for dessert whilst the sun set. As soon as it dropped below the horizon, we had about 30 minutes of twilight in which to return to the hut, which we had to ourselves for the night. Well…….all except the possum that was dancing on the roof all night.
We woke up reasonably early and awaited the bird song that would indicate that sunrise was not far away. When I heard the first bird chirp I was up and amped to head up the hill to watch the sunrise. There was a little bit of wind this morning. Rach wasn’t so keen but with a bit of cajoling she got up and we hiked up to the ridge-line and waited, and waited, and waited. Damn those birds got up early, but eventually the sun joined the day and illuminated Slaty Peak.
After a quick breakfast of porridge to get some warm food into our stomachs we started the descent down the ridge-line and then climbed up to Starveall which we summited. The view is great from the summit. There was no haze like there had been the previous day so the view across the Waimea Plains was nice and clear. We had a technical descent down to the Starveall Hut which continued for nearly 1250m of stepping down. This really destroys your legs and was a challenge in itself.
We met a few groups of day-hikers coming up as well as an adventurer doing the Te Araroa Trail. He was struggling up and had nearly two more hours of climbing to go. As he was aiming for Slaty Hut, we told him to have a New Years drink with the half bottle of wine we left for some lucky person walking the trail. His plan was to have a hut day tomorrow with the approaching storm, so the bottle of wine would have been a great reward for him. He had been on the go for a month starting in Palmerston North heading all the way to Bluff in this trip. He had done the other previous North Island legs in various segments and was now on a mission to complete the trail.
As we carried on down the heat cranked up. It was sweltering hot. We were looking forward to the river long before we could hear it. When we finally got to it I dipped my hat in it for a nice cold trickle down my back.
The final 6km back from Hacket Hut was a drag in the dry, still air. We were both grateful to get back to the van and return to civilisation for cold showers to rid us of all the sweat.