37. Taipo – Stone (Wangapeka 2/4)

Sunday, March 19: Cloudy with some drizzle to begin with, becoming finer with a little sun shining through

Tramping: 18.6 km

Stone Hut (Doc)

The only noise in the night was the wood burning out, towards dawn some birds appeared (weka? kea?), and I slept through until about 8:00. Time for ryvita and salami but noticed too late that the salami had garlic in it and wasn’t particularly sliceable. In any case breakfast was soon dealt with and everything packed away for an early start.

Swept out the hut just prior to leaving, and the track was moderate. At about the point where the track to Helicopter Flat Hut left I met a couple from Sydney who were doing the Leslie-Karamea (to be followed then by the Heaphy from west to east, and the Abel Tasman). No one else on the track.

There was a turnoff to Saxon Falls where I had a first hydration stop after two hours. Trevor Carter Hut could be made out in the distance. The lunchtime hut (Helicopter Flat) was just over an hour away and I was counting steps to shorten the time when I slipped at a creek crossing and hurt my right hand and hip. Nothing broken, and I was soon at the hut for the lunch break for three muesli bars, water refilled from the stream, and a cold bath for the right hand.

After lunch I continued along the track which was in the process of becoming somewhat wilder. Immediately at the hut there was a three-wire bridge which it wasn’t necessary to use, and at an option point I took the low road as the river levels seemed reasonable and successfully completed two river crossings on my own. The other path rejoined soon after, and I was beginning to wonder about whether I had missed a turnoff, so at the next hydration stop I took out the map (last crossing of the Karamea River) and everything was OK. Just on 1 km to the crossing of Chime Creek, and another to Wangapeka Saddle.

From now on the track was in very good condition, and after doubling back at Chime Creek there was one slip that had to be bypassed. The ascent was very mild and I was soon on the pass. Here an alternative route from Trevor Carter over the Biggs Tops joins the track.

From here on the track was steeper and somewhat worse for wear (washing out) but soon reached the Murchison 1929 slip with its extensive distribution of rocks. Very soon after that the hut turned up, where a couple from Aschaffenburg, Marcel and Jasmin, were on their way to Kings.

Among the rockfalls. GPS quality: 30/30, coverage: 100%, download: Taipo - Stone GPX (1050 downloads)

The hut here has two large plastic water containers (20 L), one of which was filled up and positioned for hand-washing. Then some firewood was collected, some was chopped up for tonight, and the ash was disposed of. At around this point I discovered that I had lost my glasses (second time in a week!) and looked around in the three last places they could have been lost at, but to no avail. They shouldn’t have been taken outside for wood collecting or chopping to begin with. A generous portion of trail mix was eaten for afternoon tea, and aspirin was necessary for the hand and hip.

Time was moving on. Sox and undies had to be washed, and the fire that I had started going was not particularly effective. Blew around quite a bit, added some more lighter firewood, and eventually go the heavier stuff burning as well, and the hut is at a very toasty 21.3°, despite an unclosable louvre window.

Dinner was cooked and eaten, teeth brushed, deet applied (although there are relatively few sandflies about, they can get in – and out again – easily enough through cracks in the structure). Sox & undies were hung up to dry by the fire together with the wet boots that are slowly but surely disintegrating. A pan of water for washing up was almost too hot to handle.

Perhaps a short day tomorrow.