Day 12: Lower Wairaki Hut to Aparima Hut

After a long night of hard rain on the tin roof I woke, bright and early, ready to get today’s walk done before lunch. I realised soon after waking that it wasn’t still raining outside like I thought, but that the sound was actually coming from the river down below – the one I had to cross as I left the hut. I walked down the hill slowly, eating my porridge, and found the river in flood. The water was brown, the banks were flooded, and the ‘stick test’ failed miserably (the stick test involves throwing a stick into the river and looking to see if it moves faster than your walking pace – if so, the river is dangerous).

I did some quick maths in my head and decided on a 2pm cutoff: if the river hadn’t gone down enough to cross by then, I would stay another night and attempt to cross the following day.

After a luxurious morning off spent reading and stoking the fire, a Frenchman arrived a the hut around lunchtime. He had just spent three hours walking over the pass I had crawled over yesterday, me taking seven. I had just been down to assess the river again and had noted that the water was now clear and moving a little slower. It still failed the stick test, but it was improving. I thought briefly of trying to convince the Frenchman to continue his day and walk the next six hours to Aparima Hut with me, and in doing so we could cross the river together. Watching him almost fall over trying to fill his cup from the tap, I decided against it.

Another hour later I was packing my things, when German Ponytail arrived at the hut. He said hello to me, and immediately proceeded to reprimand me for leaving hot coals in the fireplace. “You should never leave the fire like this! Four or five huts burn down every year because of this, did you know that? Always put water on! You are from England, no?”. I wanted to strangle him with his own hair tie. At that point the Frenchman jumped in with “Ah, very sorry, I azked her to leave zem for me, very sorry”. I took a delicious moment to glower at German Ponytail like a sixteen year old, and then informed him, “I’m a Kiwi”.

I left the hut at precisely 2pm. I took the river crossing slowly and carefully, putting my skills acquired from last year’s training course to good use, and it went well. The walk was easy and pleasant, through Beech forest and tussock. Before I left the hut, German Ponytail had boasted “Yeah, we took five hours today, but we really pushed, you know? You will probably need six”. His comment fuelled me to finish in four and a half.

My first swing bridge, just before Aparima Hut.

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