22 Feb. The weather was of concern today with rain and high winds forecast; it might prevent crossing Stag Saddle. Off at 08:00 up the valley to Royal Hut. Rain started on the way but nothing heavy. I arrived at 10:00. Pablo, Joe and Coey were already there and were waiting out the rain. A young Australian couple were using the hut as a hunting base. They had been flown in by helicopter and were hunting tahr with compound bows. They already had one. Tim and Di were also there waiting for the best weather window. My Garmin inReach weather forecast indicated rain would be over by midday.
I had time to make a cup of tea and soon everyone walking that day was in the hut. After an hour the skies had cleared, so I set off for the two hour 600m climb to Stag Saddle. The wind strength increased as I gained height with very strong gusts, but although cold, there were no exposed heights to cause concern about falls. It was a brief stop on the saddle for photos and then onto the westerly ridge for a gentle walk down with amazing views over Lake Tekapo and the Godley river feeding it. This was ground I was familiar with as I had walked up the same ridge with Kevin and Harry from the tramping club over Christmas. Jake, Cass and I took a late lunch on a ridge high spot out of the wind absorbing the views. With mobile signal I uploaded yesterday’s blog. Tim and Di shot past us, obviously enjoying a down hill ride after hours of pushing.
I arrived at Camp Stream Hut at 18:30. 24 km with 900m of climb in just under 10 hours. New faces at the hut were Toby from US, Justine from Nantes, France, on a working holiday visa. They were heading in the opposite direction. It is a small hut with 6 bunks so with today’s walking crew we totalled twelve. I camped; great joy, no sandflies. Must be the altitude and wind. For dinner I experimented with mash, dried peas (rehydrated) and salmon (packet). May do that one again.