Today – 30.2km from Crooked Spur hut to Camp Stream hut
Today was without a doubt one of the best days I’ve had on the TA.
After a really solid night sleep in the hut, I left just before 10, knowing Emeric would catch up pretty quick.
We had enjoyed breke outside in the morning sun in chairs we took from the inside hut table, looking down at the sweet valley view.
It was tussock country and the colours were incredible. But I was feeling pretty sluggish.
We had discussed the idea of heading over Stag saddle later today to push and make a long day, as it was the TA high point and a phenomenal view, but the weather looked super windy and crap coming in the next day.
As I struggled with the morning heat up this first climb, I was thinking that I didn’t know if that was a possibility.
But it was awesome views. I was huffing and puffing, my face bright red and of course a northbounder came in my direction, asking how I was going. I puffed out some sentences, red faced and sweaty and he enquired of it was a really hard climb, to which I replied, not particularly but apparently it is for me today ! Had a short chat and then kept moving. Why did I feel so sluggish?
Put my head down and shuffled my feet towards the top of the saddle. Made it!!!
Had a nice break there. Thank God when Emeric arrived he looked just as pooped as me. Red in the face we were surprised at how difficult we both found that climb.
The view was astounding. Ridges and tussock before us. Descending time! Awesome scree slope descent, and back to the golden tussock. Was feeling twenty times better now that I had conquered that first climb of the day.
Enjoyed a couple of hours of undulating walking, nice track, easy walking, and we made great time to Stone hut.
All the huts on this section are old musterers huts, but in good condition and I think they’re really cool inside.
Found Michael from the UK having lunch, and we enjoyed lunch of peanut butter and nutella wraps. Had some chips as well. Yum.
Next section was an hour or so reasonably straightforward walking near the river to Royal hut. It was only about 2.30pm and we clocked up another hour or so and reached Royal hut in good time.
Quick snack break, and we left the hut just before 4pm, knowing it could be a late one when we got to the next hut after doing the Stag Saddle and the the ridge walk.
The weather was hot, sunny and only a few cool looking clouds in the sky.
About 5mins after leaving the hut, there was a tempting looking swimming hole, and so there was only one thing to do but jump in. Taking five or ten minutes to cool off really meant we smashed the ascent to Stag Saddle with a couple of short breaks enjoying the scenery. So many cool mountains and ridges all around.
We often joke about climbing all the nearby mountains when we can see faint tracks up them.
All of a sudden we made it to the top! The approach to stag saddle was way more chill than I thought, and here we are on top of the saddle! Awesome.
We celebrated and enjoyed the moment of being at the TA high point. Took some awesome photos and mucked around for a while.
We could see the ridge to the right we had to climb to get on to start our descent, but rather than doing more elevation cut across.
Emeric has some amazing photos he took on his camera of the evening. So when I get some I’ll update with them.
nfortunately we ended up sidling across a pretty steep scree slope, but after not too long we made it to the long awaited ridge walk we had heard of.
And it was every bit as good as what we had heard. We found a great spot, put on some warm clothes and made dinner , there was barely a breath of wind.
Mash potato was dinner for me, pasta for E, and we enjoyed the evening light on the fantastic scene in front of us.
We could see the band of the Southern alps, with Mt Cook saying hey in the distance. Golden tussock was in front of us, and the intense blue of Lake Tekapo sparkling beneath us. Incredible.
Cant get a better dinner view than this!!
We decided to stay for sunset, and slowly started hiking after an hour or so as the sun was setting on the ridge. We followed the easy track enjoying the last rays of light and then got our headlamps out for the descent.
Emeric did a great job of night navigating as we smashed our way down the ridge track tussock bashing in the dark. We eventually made it to a 4WD track and did a night river crossing. The stars were out in force, it was a clear night and the view was incredible.
Finally made it to the Camp Stream hut. We were pooped but the best kind of happy and tired, stoked with our efforts of the day.
Really enjoyed night hiking. It was a 12 hour day, reaching camp after 10 but felt relaxed and we made great time all day, stopping for breaks and swimming and the best dinner on the ridge.
Set up our tents in the dark and turned in. What a day to remember!