Arrival in hut routine (many days)

Arriving at a hut after a day’s walk usually sparks a rush of activity,  the details of which depend on the time of arrival and the weather. What follows is an overview of the routine with an early arrival on a sunny day. When arriving late the focus is food and sleeping!

We arrive about 4.30 pm
Claim a bunk, Sarah and I prefer bottom bunks, Sandie a top bunk. If there are few fellow trampers we can spread out, if the hut is full it’s an exercise in containment, especially if wanting to keep track of your gear. Can’t replace it if lost!
Washing day’s clothes, particularly undies and smelly socks (we only have two pairs of each)
Hanging them out to dry on whatever suitable outpost is available: tree branches, bushes, rocks, walking poles, inside drying line or rack.
Deciding what to eat.
Taking stuff out of the pack: food bag, sleeping gear, clothes bag.
Soaking dehy veggies (insufficiently soaked ones play havoc with innards and morning rush to the long drop!)
Writing our details in the hut book and reading others’ posts, particularly from people we have met before (they’re all speeding along ahead of us).
Chatting with other trampers – we’ve met some lovely people :).
Divying the tasks for cooking, getting and filtering water and doing dishes.
Eating dinner.
Having a hot chocolate drink as dessert for extra calories; if the water is unfiltered it needs to be boiled for at least three minutes.
Cleaning teeth, using boiled or filtered water.
Getting breakfast ready; for me that is soaking our delicious muesli – can only do this after dinner as we need all our pots for cooking.
Getting snacks ready from the main food bag into my daily ration bag which I carry in my front “balance bags”.
Checking and bringing in washing; hanging inside or accept it will have to be attached to the outside of the pack the next day, to be air-dried that way.
Depending on the quality of the hut, i.e. whether or not fly screens are on the windows, we go through a ritual of ridding the place of as many sandflies as possible.
Sometimes there is time for some journal writing
Then suddenly the light is fading, four or more hours have melted away and it is time to hit the sack…. wake up time is 6 am for a 7/7.30 am start of walking!

Walking besides Travers Rive (Day 30)

All day long
Accompanied by the
Rushing water of
Travers River
Its flow
Colour
Clarity to any depth
Rocks small and large
Eddies strong
Steady and fast
Neverending stream
Of fresh clean water

Framed by
Meadows
Tall grasses
Sunshine and
Trees
Eventually
By towering mountains
With smatterings
Of left over snow
On the tops

 
The packs come off
For a two minute side track
To visit Travers Falls
Wondrous and spectacular
Thundering into its pool below
Timeless
Surrounded by eery
Ancient
Deep dark
Moss-covered trees
And rocks

Breath-taking beauty

All day long

New plans (Day 28)

Unable to rely
On plans made
Earlier
We set about
Working out
New logistics

Sarah will do
her own thing
Then join us again
Somewhere
That works
On all levels..
Her capacity
Our trail sections
Days needed
A meeting place
Somewhere
That makes sense
For all..
We have a plan

Sorting a new place
To meet Rixt
On February 20th,
Though still on the trail,

And someplace
Where Marco will pick her up
With a campervan
A week later
‘Cos’ Wanaka or Queenstown
Were just a little
Too ambitious
Is a whole other story

Studying
The notes,
The maps
And consulting
The team
Rakaia seems to be the place.
We’ll  work out the details
Later
Tomorrow
We’re walking again

Post ten-day-tramping breakfast (Day 27)

Ravenously
Hollow inside
The first five pieces
Of toast slide down
Without touching
The sides
Or seeming
To land anywhere

Add
A croissant
Two eggs
Fresh salmon
With spinach
On bread
Three cups of tea
One orange juice
And then
At last
With the final item
A large smoothie
I begin to feel
I’ve had sufficient
To eat
For the next few
Hours

Reconnecting with Sarah (Day 26)

No cell reception
For ten days
But hoping
The TA
Bush telegraph
Is working
And faster travellers
Will herald
Our imminent
Arrival

Quietly wondering
Whether we may
Be greeted by
A smiling face
At Red Hills Hut
But no..

So up the hill
I trudge
In search of
Cell reception
Reported
In the hut book
“Just behind
The water tank”
All in vain
Seems to be
The TA joke
Of the day

Only to be met
On my return
By Sarah’s
Very relieved
(Bush telegraph
Had done its job)
And smiling face
With backpack full of food,
Including chips!

An hour of
Devouring
The salty crunchies and
Catching up
On mutual
Adventures
And wellbeing

Then we’re on our way
Again
Walking
Hitching
To civilisation
Where rest
Recovery
Food
Showers
Real beds
And some
TA friends
Await us

Great to
Be three again

Looking forward to St. Arnaud’s (Day 26)

Just walking,
When the ground
The rocks
The roots
Are dry
And the terrain
Is kind

Legs strong
Feet strong
Even if some
Of the little bones
Are feeling the pressure
Of having laboured
With a load
For 22 days…
Strong, painfree knees
Even on the
Downward slopes

Watching the landscape change
Every step
A different
Vista
If only
A slightly
Different angle
Different trees
Rocks, roots, leaves
Water

Even
Time to notice
The clouds;
And let imagination
Run wild
About
Luxury accommodation
Crisp cotton sheets
And thick white towels

Happiness on the trail (Day 26)

The weather glorious
Spirits high
The walking trail
Is littered
With hearts
“For Africa”
In all shapes
Sizes
Colours
(courtesy of
Nelson Mineral Belt)
And textures:
Stones
Rocks
Wood
Leaves
Moss
Lichen
Clouds
Porter’s Creek hut to ourselves
Sunshine to dry out
Our gear
Frogs in the pond
The moon rising
Above the nearby mountain
Time even
For some sunbathing

Happy trampers

Rain and Motueka river (Day 25)

With nerves on edge once more
At the threatening sky
And knowing there are two more
Rivers to cross
We set off
To Hunters’ Hut.

The clouds
Soon start dropping their load
And shield
No doubt magnificent views
from our eyes.
It’s cold and wet
And we need to keep moving
That’s how it is
Sometimes
When tramping
In New Zealand

The skies clear
Intermittently
The first stream crossing
A pleasantly
Easy
Surprise

When finally faced
With the Motueka,
The hut visible
On the other side,
Thankfully,
The truth of the situation
Needs no discussion
Or debate:
This raging
Frothing
Dark brown
Torrent
Is impassible.
So we trudge back
Up the hill.
With our kiwi’s ingenuity
Set up a bivvy and camp spot
Between downpours
And have a very cosy
Sardine-like
But warm and dry
Top-and-tailing night
In her one-person tent
– too wet to set up two –
Keeping our
Fingers crossed
The rain will stop
And the river will return
To its usual
Beautiful
Passable self
By tomorrow.

Wishes granted
The Motueka
Is successfully
Forded
The next morning

River crossings (Day 24)

A long poem for a long and demanding day – things did change after this!

The story of river crossings to Top Wairoa Hut after a day’s rain; two days after my tumble.
The trail notes are ominous
For the Top Wairoa Hut section
At the best of times
The sky is adding its weight
In foreboding colours

Four of us trampers
set off

I call on
The powers of
Visual
and body-felt
Imagery
Aided by the ever-present
sound
Of the Wairoa River
Clearing my cells
Of tension and fear
With welcome success
Most of the time

The first of five, we think,
Crossings
Goes well
The young couple
Sean and Kali
Learn fast

After three or four more

It starts to rain
We step up the pace
Somewhat anxiously
Knowing that rivers
Rise quickly when it rains
One more to go!

No!
Another
And another
And ANOTHER
And oh yes
There’s a waterfall
to cross
“If you lose your footing”
The notes say
“You go down the four meter fall”

We manage them,
The water IS rising..
We MUST be
Getting closer to the end now,
Surely

One more
A big
Wide
Rocky
Affair
With many individual braids
By now

We try a few places
Without success
And decide to go back
Set up a bivvy
For a wet and uncomfortable
Night

Tracing steps back
Sean sees one last chance
He gets across well
With his long legs
Leaves his pack
On the other side
Takes two more packs
And their owners across

Then comes back
For me
And my pack
All is well
Till the last step

The safe-haven
Last-step rock
Is fast starting
To disappear

I feel unable to jump
The gap
To the rock
And the two trees
To hold on to
When I get there

And feel with my foot
For another
In-between
Closer
Footing

This BIG mistake
Sees me
In a split second
With my legs
And up to my chest
Being pulled
By the rushing water
Hanging onto
The tree with one hand
Sean’s hand with the other
For dear life

We both struggle
To pull me up

Finally
With both hands
Around the two trees
My legs frantically
Trying to find
Solidity
And Sean’s arm
Around my back

Just as the last-foothold rock
Starts rolling away
From underneath
Both of us

I am heaved
And Sean jumps
To safety

No time to lose
Soaking wet
Cold
Traumatised once more
Out of breath
We all clamber
Up the bushclad
Virtually vertical
Hillside
Towards the
Bright orange
TOILET
Of the hut
Sean and Kali
Had already seen
From the river.

Never has the sight of a
Toilet
Been so welcome

Once in the hut
At a quarter to nine
Sandie springs into action
Dry and warm clothes
Beanie
Hot drink
Warm sleeping bag
For me

We top and tail
So the other two
Don’t have to sleep on the floor
We have a restless
But very grateful
Night