13. Hauroko Burn – Halfway Hut (Dusky Track 1/8)

Thursday, February 23: Sunny throughout with some morning fog and high clouds in the afternoon

Tramping: 11.9 km

Halfway Hut (Doc)

The compass-alarm went off on the dot of 6:00 and I was up to finish the orange juice and two eggs which were a little too hard boiled, but the shells separated nicely. Everything fitted into the backpack, except for the (large) gas can and the burner which were packed into the sport shoe bag and strapped on the outside of the pack, and the tripod and ratsack are being carried in a separate bag sashed to me.

The computer & pjs were put into the satellite pack and deposited in locker #19.

With everything ready to go and the room key delivered back to the key drop I was waiting at the front of the motorcamp at 7:15 and could spend a spot OK while doing so. Shuttle turned up a little after half past, and in addition to Jack & Nico, two Dutch hikers were coming along as well, Sjos & Bo. We also had to pick up another person in Manapouri, Murray, a Kiwi from Taranaki. Now we were set to go to Clifden. Here we were joined by a young Canadian couple, Quinn & Matt, who had just completed the Te Araroa and were looking for another challenge.

After about half an hour we arrived at the station and resaddled into the boat – coats had to be taken out first, as it would be cold on the lake. With the packs stowed away, we were driven to the lake, where the boat was launched. After a while we embarked for the final 45 minutes.

Bus and boat. GPS quality: 30/30, coverage: 100%, download: Lake Hauroko (Boat) GPX (969 downloads) Lake Hauroko - Halfway GPX (942 downloads)
Change to tramping track
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The minibus journey had been through various banks of light fog in the morning sunlight, but once we were on the lake everything was as clear as a bell. I took numerous shots, although we had to sit (or stand) still for the most part, but I got a moderately well timed series of Caroline Peak as it receded into the distance.

Pretty soon we were at the very improvised mooring and jumped off the boat as our packs were being unloaded. First meeting point was the Hauroko Burn Hut where we made ourselves ready for the walk. I had a couple of currants, and left as #6 at 11:03, leaving only Jack & Nico behind.

The mud on the track today was pretty well behaved in most places. The beginning section was quite good, but things slowed down a little after that. I overtook Murray after a couple of minutes. There was an unaided river crossing and the mud continued up the other side. After about two hours I had a break for one half of the water. Then the first three-wire bridge turned up and that was quite fun. After that the track was all in all a little drier, but there were a couple of steep climbs. Just after the first break I had attempted some dead reckoning – 1,000 steps – about 500 m in 15 minutes, which would put my arrival time @ 4:30. Was also getting a bit hungry by now and thought that it might be better to swap the muesli bars (intended for breakfast) with the crackers & salami (intended for lunch), so that not everything has to be unpacked for lunch. Will try it tomorrow.

Another break at just after 3:00 exhausted the one water bottle. The path was now back down at the river, and within 20 minutes a sign for the hut could be seen and in another 10 an official signpost marking the sections turned up. Had to look around the corner for the hut but I was finally there @ 3:45.

The Canadian couple were just about to leave for the next hut (Lake Roe, which was officially 3-5 hours), and the Dutch couple had already arrived, although they were staying the night. Sandflies galore here. I was just into today’s crackers & salami when Murray arrived, followed half an hour or so later by a somewhat distraught Jack who had lost Nico along the way. Nico had apparently charged on, but had never overtaken Murray so it was a mystery as to what had happened to him.

As far as I could see he must have gotten lost; or perhaps been injured not far from the track and Jack had passed him without noticing. We gave him an hour and in the meantime I washed my sox, the trouser bottoms which was not easy as there was no sink. Just as the time was running out Nico turned up. He had become lost and broken his walking sticks.

The track is sometimes a little difficult to follow, so much can be said, but then the markers would have to be found and followed. Nico had gotten way off the track before going back and refinding it.

Anyway it was dinner time (instant noodles, then spaghetti with margarine and oxo cubes, which I have now dubbed “instant vegemite”). Washed the dishes as well as possible, and everyone is now winding down.

Tried getting the ipod to capture a radio station, but only FM was possible and no stations are available, so no news. Sent out a spot OK.

Long political discussion until way after dark, not much worth commenting on.