The rain stopped around 2 am. By first light, 5 30 am, the river wasn’t so thunderous, but it was still dominating the soundscape. These rivers get up real quick, but because they are so steep they go down quickly as well. The Whitcombe was still raging, but not as crazily as last night.

Two choices.

I could at least spend some more time working out how to get around the one boulder that was thwarting me. Walk up, well, clamber over, and have another look.

If I decided to go back to Rapid Creek, I would just have to get up here again. And I felt if I went back now I probably have to ditch the first leg of my summer’s trip. I started looking at a range of options where to go for two weeks, but the weather forecast now was good for quite a few days.


My thinking was that where I’d picked my pack out of the river yesterday there was only a 10 m gap before flat rocks started. I just had to get across that.

As it turned out the river was down significantly.

I lowered my pack at times on some thin nylon rope, tent guy ropes, I had as spare bootlaces.

Man, it’s back in the water again.

As it turned out the water was only fully crutch wetting deep, but with a sloping sandy bottom.

I was through, and away. The river must have been down at least 600 mm, so there had been no possibility of this route yesterday.

No stopping me now. Actually, there were plenty of boulders to get around, some climbing high above the gorge for a while, then again to get above a slip. I grabbed some stinging nettle to steady myself and that feeling will be with me for a while.

Eventually I made it to the exciting swingbridge, high above the surging water that had entirely lost any blue tinge. On the other side there was a fixed aluminium extension ladder to climb down to the mossy rocks, and then a few kilometres of boulder hopping till the hut.

Was around 2 pm when I strolled in. The sun was out so everything was hung out in the sun to dry off. The tent and most clothes were easy. That sleeping bag was now majorly soaked.

Later I ended up lighting the wood burner to see if that would help dry things out.

This expedition is now back on track. There is blue sky up above, in places, and I’m thinking I’ll head up the hill to Frew Hut as per my itinerary. I noted that the DOC sign outside the hut stated a mere two hours to the Rapid Creek Hut, and maybe that’s possible without a pack, but it had taken me a full 28 hours.

I’m hoping the 1000 m climb up to the bivvy doesn’t take that long, although five hours was scratched into the sign. Might just leave early.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Frew Hut

Frew is up on a river terrace with some young kahikateas around. | Frew Hut, Whitcomb River, West Coast
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