Luckily Lisa and Rich had left me some lollies at Harper hut. Not so luckily, I only saw the picture of Richy emerging from UNDER the hut yesterday on Facebook and so sadly I fear some other bugger will eat them.... hoping to make my next food drop which involves Dominic leaving a blue sock at a secret, undisclosed location, thanks Dom!
After completing the section through from Bealey to the Rakaia River, the Christchurch MS crew very kindly shouted me a night at the Brown pub in Methven (rather than the green or blue pub!). They also gave me some very yummy baking and a selection of Backcountry meals, which have made for luxury eating!
Lake Coleridge Village - from where I exited the trail to partake in this luxury (via the official TA 'Rakaia hazard zone' bypass) is a waaaaay weird place, to say the least Trampers are not welcome, the trail keeps even your shadow from landing on the lawns of the houses there. Harriet and Alex, who I last saw in Wellington, had a terrible reception at Coleridge Lodge: They wanted to buy an over-priced pizza and beer, but were actually told that trampers (and presumably their $!!) are not welcome....
Haketere Conservation Park lies between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers. It was chokka on the long weekend - So much for the wilderness of the backcountry! Guys on quad bikes zoomed past me, pausing only to tell me that the local farmer was a bastard and I shouldn’t try to fish/shoot/generally kill anything. Obviously this was a massive disappointment, but I had been cheered up by a guy near Lake Emily/Heron, asking me if I wanted to water-ski. Guessing that my lack of coordination, lack of any spatial awareness and rampant Reynaud’s Syndrome could possibly kill both of us, I demurred.
Raynaud’s is a debilitating condition and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. Well maybe that muppet from EQC who looked at the holes in my roof and at my purple/cadaver-like fingers and said, “oh yeah I get that, have you got any gloves....”
One of the very best parts of this trip has been meeting kiwis who live such very different lives to mine. Rural NZ is to me another planet and in so very many ways is an entirely different world. Jack is 76 and lives in Geraldine in his campervan, helping out at the lcampground. He spent 35 years ‘on the chain’ at the freezing works and at first glance you may think that we had nothing whatsoever in common. After chatting to him about where I had tramped over in Haketere, he told me that it was the borage that made the lovely purple haze. He shared my love of the beautiful ridges, dips and slopes that stretch seemingly into a never-to-be-reached place. Jack very kindly dropped me off around the official Rangitata river diversion - after he had given me some fresh fruit and a lesson in not making assumptions about people...
Mount Peel station is owned by the Ackland family and I met Rosemary and John who are the parents of the current owner, who also owns Rangitata Rafts and seemingly pretty much everything else in sight. I was a tad confused by their rather posh English accent....They told me that their daughter Lucinda was a ‘NOBO’ - walking the TA trail Northbound - after having met many trampers on their station.
Thanks to Wayne from Alps 2 Ocean Tours, who knows the area superbly-well after running the Mount Peel Outdoor Centre for many years, I took the easier route which the owner (son of Rosemary and John) doesn’t want you to take. In fact after a public opening ceremony with DOC at a new car park at the end of the road and to celebrate public access, the current station owner dug it all up and slapped a keep out sign, despite it being public land.
Anyhow, despite continuing knackerdness, I struggled up the Bush Stream until I got to Stags Saddle. This lies mid way between the Rangitata and Lake Tekapo and forms the very highest point of the trail, at 1,925m. This was great as it was soooo hot. Naturally. To be fair, I didn’t give 2 figs about achieving this lofty point, as I was just happy to Stop.Walking.Uphill.In.Searing.Heat!
I met up with some of the very lovely Timaru MS office and heard that Fiona the fieldworker has been very sick so all the very best to her in her recovery.
You may detect more than a slight lessening of my enthusiasm, energy, inclination and motivation for the trail and most certainly a major lessening of my finances. I am however resolute - continuing relentlessly going forward, pressing on with the day...
I am hoping that my friend Wendy and her son Daniel, visiting from the UK, are not taking the next plane home…. The quake yesterday coming so soon after their arrival… in Christchurch of course! If not I will look forward to catching up with (Wendy was my very best friend at school aged from 4-16). Hopefully I can keep up with them as they are going to tramp me for a few days, which I am very excited about☺
In the meantime, it’s onwards and forwards on the section from Tekapo to Wanaka.