Day 69

The sun just keeps shining today

The sun just keeps shining today

Chris just about to break into song "the hills are alive with the sound of music"

Chris just about to break into song “the hills are alive with the sound of music”

wall to wall and branch to branch carpeting for a weary traveler

wall to wall and branch to branch carpeting for a weary traveler

All too brief stop for brotherly affection at Nichols hut before we attempt Mount crawford

All too brief stop for brotherly affection at Nichols hut before we attempt Mount crawford

Another great long drop view...Nichols hut

Another great long drop view…Nichols hut

some beautiful "minature" alpine flora to tread on!

some beautiful “minature” alpine flora to tread on!

the eel episode leading to disaster with my camera, last photo it will probably ever take!

the eel episode leading to disaster with my camera, last photo it will probably ever take!

8pm Waitewaewae hut

Stupendous, magnificent, awesomely beautiful, breath taking, truly inspiring, gravity defyingly contoured, nature at it’s finest. But that’s enough about my calf muscles!

These Tararuas are pretty good too.

just setting off from Dracophyllum hut, its going to be a beautiful day

just setting off from Dracophyllum hut, its going to be a beautiful day

Getting a very faint signal on top of Mount Crawford

Getting a very faint signal on top of Mount Crawford

Jeez i've got a bit skinny. I need burgers and chips quick!

Jeez i’ve got a bit skinny. I need burgers and chips quick!

We have been blessed with the weather and it has been sunny and clear all day with only the lightest breeze. It’s been a tough day again physically especially on the knees. It started with a climb or two up a few “small” peaks ( still over 1200m) for about 4 hours to get to Nichols hut where we had a coffee.( I now wish I’d set out on the TA trail with the intention of taking pictures from the long drops as some of the views from them are just fantastic!)

We then had the sweaty ascent of Mount Crawford which is the highest point in the trail at 1462m. To get there we passed through what appeared like wall to wall carpeted forest floor where the lichen and mosses just coated everything including all the tree trunks and branches with only the tops having exposed leaves in the sun.

Our reward at the summit was the panoramic views and our lunch in idyllic conditions. We could make out the mountains in the south island too. We then had the biggest test of the shock absorption capacity of our knees with an 1100m constant descent to this hut. It was super steep in parts and we had to rest not so much because tired but to stop the knees from popping out. So glad when finally reached the river and a bit of flat.

Disaster then befell me! After having a cup of tea in this very pleasant, light and airy hut we went down to the river for a swim and to rinse a few pongy clothes, I took my camera and started to get onto to a rocky ledge in the water. Then a great big eel turned up so I took a few photos. I was just turning round on the ledge to put my camera down when I slipped and fell fully in with the camera and laundry! We are talking 8 foot deep so I wasn’t able to stand up, with the cold shock of my complete immersion into the freezing river together with the imminent attack of a monster eel I shouted to Chris “my camera” and tried to throw it to him only for it to hit a rock and rebound into the bloody river. I quickly retrieved it but I think it is broken. The lens is jammed open and after drying the battery there is no life in it. I just hope the SD card isn’t damaged as that will be catastrophic.

Chris was then a hero because one of my t-shirts had sunk to bottom of the deepest pool and I was too cold and depressed about the camera to get it and came back to the hut to get myself and the camera dry. Chris performed the role of what great big brothers do and went in and got it for me by diving down for it.

Chris has been the real hero with the walking too. This is by far the hardest physical test of the TA trail so far and I’ve had months of preparation to get me ready for it and it has been a test I’ve only just been up to. Chris has just been here a couple of weeks and not had the time I’ve had, he’s also 7 years older but he has taken it all literally ” in his stride”. To top it all he has produced, from the depths of his rucksack, some “emergency ration” Green and Blacks chocolate from England at this time of crisis. Full respect to the bro!

The morning will reveal if the camera is at all functional. Fingers crossed

We are running a bit low on food so need to decide whether to keep going on the trail and manage with what we have got for another day and a half before we get to Waikanae town or get to Otaki forks road junction around midday tomorrow and hitch a lift to Otaki town to resupply and see if can then get back to the trail with fresh supplies.

Heard from Karla today after I’d text her from summit of Mount Crawford. She is still in Hastings with her sister and in a bit of a rut about getting going again. I hope she doesn’t feel bad about it and can reassess what she wants to do and go for it whatever she decides. We’ve also been seeing signs of Katrin who has been staying at most of the huts and is currently 3 days ahead of us. We found her water bottle on the trail so I’m keeping it to give her it back.

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