Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Walk On

And walk we did. Best we can tell, the Harper Pass trail is subject to EXTREME flooding-- we found trees with trail markers on them strewn everywhere. Most of the day looked like this:

And lots of this: 

We crossed the river 23 times on the first day before we arrived at Locke Stream Hut for the night! The next day we huffed and puffed up 1,200 feet through rain forest to the 'stunning' view from Harpers Pass at 3,157 ft:

Kidding. We actually just saw clouds (or maybe just sweat in our eyes...). After a chilly lunch in the Harper Pass Bivvy, things got really interesting-- river crossings, mud holes, slippery rocks and roots. Jared and I hit the ground at least five or six times each.

Here Jared approaches his challenge:

Begins the high wire act:

And then quickly retreats:

Only to find himself getting intimate with a different log ten minutes later after a slip:

Before we could savor the night's lovely hut, Hurunui No. 3, we faced one last daunting challenge. I noticed the words 'high wire' on the map and wasn't sure what that could possibly be...

Note Jared's intense focus. Fortunately the crossing wasn't very high...not sure I could have handled it if it had more than 10 feet above the river. 

As a special treat, we had the whole hut to ourselves (which only happened three times the whole trip), and it was recently refurbished.

I spent the night waaaaaaay up in the crow's nest (just to say I did it once); it was probably the farthest apart Jared and I were since at least Queenstown (seriously). The next morning was more of the same: creek crossings and a rough trail. At least Jared came up with a novel solution:

In contrast to the day before, which was rainy and cool, this day was blazingly hot...which is really too bad, because how often do you get to hike by hot springs on the trail? And who wants to get in a hot spring when they're sweating like a pig?


Wisely heeding the above advice, we decided we at least had to stick our feet in. And it came to pass:

This may be the first time there's just been a photo of just feet on this blog (don't hold me to that...). In spite of our relaxing dip, it was a "double day", so we had around 30 kilometers to cover. We hiked down the Hurunui River, around Lake Sumner,

up and over Hope-Kiwi Saddle, and finally across this lovely meadow to the Hope-Kiwi Hut,

where we had a spectacular sunset. And the best star-gazing we had in New Zealand.

The next day we hiked out to Lewis Pass Road, where unfortunately a dreary 15 kilometer road walk awaited us. The road was way too fast for hitchhiking and had minimal shoulders-- not a good combination. Here's one of the unhappy campers now:

To add insult to injury, our shuttle bus didn't stop to pick us up (I'll generously say it was a 'miscommuncation'). Fortunately a friendly Kiwi offered us a lift-- come to find out he was actually a fellow spelunker headed to Nelson for a weekend expedition. He generously drove us to hip-happening Murchison where we stayed at perhaps the best (and best-named) hostel of the trip, the Lazy Cow. 

With regards to Murchison, there should be a real emphasis on the 'Lazy' in 'Lazy Cow':

That evening, I found out that I had another interview in a couple of days (another spolier alert!), so Jared and I changed plans and headed north to Nelson the next evening, with a plan to walk one of the finest treks in New Zealand: The Abel Tasman Trek. 

It did not disappoint...

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