I was cool in my tent at Richmond Saddle Hut, there was a group of six and two other strays on their own, it’s an eight bunker, so it was full even prior to my arrival last night.
I would have slept out regardless, unless there was just one other in the hut, so the tent was damp with condensation in the morning.
Another big day, up and over Mt Richmond, 1760m, then along a major ridge to finally land in the Pelorus river, way down at 120m.
For these ageing legs it seems this downhill section is usually more problematic and today was one of those tough days, very steep areas, not much track, and tree roots and rocks made more slippery by some rain.
The forecast is for a day of rain and I got into the cloud with the 550m early morning climb to the summit of Mt Richmond. No views today but by the time I was down onto the main ridge heading north of it the cloud had mostly blown away, I could see all the hills in behind Nelson, even Farewell Spit.
It’s a roller coaster ridge, a fair amount of climbing, marginally less than yesterday but still around 1500m, the downhill comes with a rush, slow stuff, and of course the famous chain attached to the side of a rock chute, about 80m long, a huge hanging rock you scuttle under, kinda abseiling. Today for the first time it was clear enough to see the huge drop not far away, but you don’t actually get too much exposure, and there is, of course, the chain to clutch.
I staggered into Middy Creek Hut just on dark and there’s one of the last TA SOBOs, Stu, I’m thinking it’s going to get mighty cool in that tent for him as he makes his way south over the next two months but he’s a Kiwi with alpine experience and doesn’t seem to fazed at the prospect.
Tonight is my last night in a hut, no more to be enjoyed on the way north to the end of the South Island, except Captains Creek, two hours away, which I will skip.
I’m back on Te Araroa now and intend to keep on track for the last few days, only about six days to go.