22 Jan. Very hot night in the hut bunk room. Ventilation is difficult as there were no fly screens on the windows and an open window would have been a party invitation to the sandflies.
Off at 08:10 this morning to scale Travers Saddle (1787m). Caught up the Yuya from Japan. He has been on a working holiday visa packing carrots in Ohakune, but very convenient for skiing. He is finishing off his stay in NZ with the TA trail. One of his hobbies is film photography, so we exchanged a few photos of each other going over the saddle. Also caught up with Margaret from Bavaria who had been at Upper Travers Hut.
The 500m climb wasn’t too bad as the long day yesterday got me to 1300m. However on the other side there was a 1000m of steep descent in 3km. Everyone found that tough on the knees. I had a 90 min lunch break at West Sabine Hut where Nicolas caught up with me. Tristan and Veronique were there. They are both engineers from France, now working and living in Palmerston North with NZ residency. Stefan also came in just before I left, so it was great to see him again. He has walked from John Tait Hut so had a long day and was planning to spend the night there. I pressed on at 14:00 for a 3.5 hour tramp to Blue Lake Hut. About 2km from the hut Stefan and Oceane caught up with me. Oceane was on hyperdrive today and she pressed Stefan to push on. Blue Lake Hut at 1190m is well positioned for crossing over Waiau Pass. They had a very big day. Mine was only 17km with 1000m of climb; 9 hours with a long lunch stop.
The track from West Sabine Hut to Blue Lake Hut had been badly damaged in the storms before Christmas. A four-man DOC team were repairing/clearing/re-routing the track, so we benefited from an easier route. It was still impressive to see the changes large volumes of water make to the landscape.
Blue Lake has the clearest water in the world (visibility of > 80m) and is a popular visitor destination. The 16 bunk hut was full and there were at least 14 people camping outside. Bruce, the volunteer hut warden, had his hands full, but he kindly showed me the best river spot for a quick cooling wash. I decided to camp; at least it would be a cooler night in a tent. A commercial dehy meal of mushroom and venison risotto tonight. Still two chilli-con-carne meals to go!