11 Feb. Today’s aim was to get back on the trail where I left it in Arthur’s Pass. However the intercity bus and the train were fully booked, so it was going to depend on my success hitching the two hours from Christchurch.
At 09:15 my friend Anara collected me and my again full pack from the B&B and on to the Beach Bar cafe for breakfast. Actually it was my second breakfast as I had cereal and toast at the B&B, but no harm with an additional full breakfast when you aren’t sure how long it will be until the next one 😊. Then across town to state highway 73 where Anara left me at a good hitching spot for Arthur’s Pass. Within 20 mins Eva from Köln, Germany, picked me up along with Thierry and Florence from Montreal, TA walkers heading north-bound from Lake Coleridge. I should meet them on the trail in 2-3 days as we cross in different directions. Eva is touring NZ for 7 weeks on her own as part of a year off from teaching.
By midday I was in Darfield waiting for another ride onward. At 14:00 still waiting, so I decided to catch the daily East West Coaches shuttle service at 14:40 as it came through Darfield. $45 for the certainty of getting to the Morrison Footbridge before dark, about 20 km beyond Arthur’s Pass Village.
With road works on state highway 73 the shuttle was running about half an hour late and it was 17:10 by the time I started walking from the footbridge. The afternoon was very warm so I was fortunate in a way to be walking late. The track quickly adopted the river bed and two walkers (Sasha and Jen) coming the other way commented how boldery the route was. River travel is one terrain where boots win over the trail shoes which most walkers wear. While trail shoes suit the long distance US trails, You can move much faster along NZ rivers with decent ankle support and rigid soles, especially when carrying a loaded pack.
I covered 6km by 19:10 and was looking for a spot to pitch my tent opposite Spray Creek when another “Hey Richard” came from the bush. It was Katrina, who I last saw at Hurunui Hut over a week ago. In that time she had met her boyfriend Mark who had flown over from UK and he has joined her on the trail.
Concurrent activity of boiling water while I got the tent up meant I had eaten my dehy beef bourguignon, had a mug of tea and in my sleeping bag by 21:00 with time to catch up with Katrina and Mark.
I thought starting the trail late tonight that I would be camping on my own. I haven’t had a night on my own yet on the trail!
The Deception Valley Route is described on the DOC website.