20 Feb. The shuttle left at 08:15, close to the Crown pub outside the Central Cafe which opened at 06:00, so by 07:00 I had ordered my big breakfast to get the day off to a caloried start. Michael took us on the 90 minute journey to the section start at Bush Stream. Svenja had already done this section, so she was jumping forward on the trail to Twizel. Jean and Anne-Marrie from Montreal were new to the daily group. Jake , Cass, Sven, and Leonie were back. I started walking at 10:30.
Bush Stream track described it. The track was the stream bed and involved many crossings so it was another day of wet feet. After about 6km in the stream, the track climbed steeply to Crooked Spur Hut. I arrived there at 13:45 and had an hour for a lunch stop. There were a group of six walkers also lunching travelling north-bound, heading out for a shuttle pickup in the morning.
The climb continued from Crooked Spur Hut to a saddle at 1500m. The route was pole marked through thick tussock grass and while generally there was a foot trail to follow, it wasn’t always easy to see. Once over the saddle the route descended into a large valley surrounded by alpine scree slopes to Stone Hut at 1100m. A number of creek gulleys provided short descents and climbs but I arrived at Stone Hut at 18:30. 20.5km in 8 hours with 1300m of climb.
Jean and Anne-Marrie have pushed on to Royal Hut. The huts two occupants were Steve and Warren from Christchurch, Steve said he was out for some exercise carrying his rifle, he wouldn’t call it hunting. They had come from Crooked Spur Hut today. Jake Cass, Sven and Leonie were right behind me. Pablo, Joe and Coey arrived about an hour later. They had crossed the Rangitata without problems after camping overnight and were delighted to have saved the shuttle fees.