What’s better than just walking straight out the door of your permanent accommodation with a mission to complete the Alpine Route in summer after having the odd issue the previous year?
This time it was the full version, a walk over to the terrific Pelorus River Valley, that’s joining the Te Araroa Trail, then southbound, up and over the Alpine Route, days of walking on ridges undulating around 1500 m, taking in a few peaks with as good 360º views that are around, Mt Starveall, Mt Rintoul, Purple Top, etc, and after the Wairoa River getting up into the Red Hills.
In the end when GJ Coop trudged into St Arnaud 14 days later, and the weather report for continuing a-mazing weather, he just kept on keeping on, three more big passes, Sunset Saddle up near Mt Angelus, Travers Pass, again, this time without snow whipping vigorously across his visage and, finally, having been everywhere around it, Waiau Pass on a great day. Eventually he ended up on Day 22 at the Lewis Pass.
Yup, a great Little Adventure. Here’s what happened …
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Length: 14,700 words — equivalent to a 65 page paperback
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Here’s an extract:
Nelson to St Arnaud via the Alpine Route and on to the Lewis Pass via Angelus and Waiau Pass
I’ve returned to live in New Zealand after half a lifetime away, keen to get into the hills and experience this startling environment. Reacquaint myself with the South Island. First up is tramping what is commonly known as the Alpine Route, ie, Nelson to St Arnaud and a full 140km of tree roots and windswept tops.
One joy of living in Nelson is that you can just start tramping more or less out your back door. Up The Brook and before long you are slogging up the firebreak onto the Dun Mountain Trail, an old decommissioned tram route, built in the 1860s to transport out copper ore in an unprofitable way for a few years, defunct since 1901.
It’s a six hour walk over to the Pelorus River, in the Mt Richmond Forest Park, the pristine green tinged water so clear the huge trout just levitate.
The plan for this excursion is to join Te Araroa, the Long Pathway, the 3000km hiking trail that leads from Cape Reinga to Bluff, from the north to south points of the two main islands and winds up the Pelorus River. I’m not intent on the complete package this time around, just the Middy Creek Hut to St Arnaud section, about 110km plus the 30km from Nelson, over nine days.
The 4.5 to 5 hour spacing of the huts is somewhat awkward at this autumning time of year, at 41ºS, ie, limited daylight hours, those times are actual walking hours so it’s a rush to jump a hut when sunrise is currently 7 01am and sunset 5 51pm, ie, ten hours. I might be able to travel somewhat faster with my size 47 boots but I expect to muck around taking photos and a goodly proportion of the walk is majorly exposed, up there at 1500m, it’s possible to get into serious trouble staggering around trying to find your accommodation in the dark.
I started better prepared than ever, with a new GPS to locate me, complete with compass function for whiteout conditions, a headlight with powerful spotlight.
The weather forecast: bleak.
Might be the Little Adventure I’m looking for.