23 Jan. Up at 06:00 to take some atmospheric photos of Blue Lake. Started walking at 08:00 with a slight detour to see the source of the lake and then on upwards to Lake Constance where I met Peter from the US who was taking a snack break and some photos. I snacked as well for the 550m climb ahead and we were joined by Yuya, Stefan, Oceane, Tristan, and Veronique. We all snaked our way up to the top of the pass over scree slopes. Most had a lunch break at the top and Oceane, Stefan and I went on as a small group for the steep 900m descent into the Waiau Valley. It was hard on the knees, so Stefan and I picked an early campsite by the river. No rain forecast so we should be OK on the river bank. Nice location for a river wash and shave. Washed my walking gear as well and we had enough sun to just about dry them. Pitching camp early at around 15:15 meant the sandflies weren’t yet out in force.
At about 18:00 Holger came down from the pass. He is usually the last one sweeping the trail, and a strong tramper. The previous day he has even done some track maintenance, removing some confusing orange triangles on trees swept down across the river. He didn’t need much persuading to join our campsite. As soon as we lost the sun, the sandflies were out, but at least we had our tents up and were well covered up. A South Island Robin entertained us while we ate (chilli-con-carne with pasta).
Only 11.5km today in 7:15 hours, but 850m of climb and 1100m of decent overall.