4 Mar. Felt an earthquake at 00:30. Sleeping with an ear on my sleeping mat, I heard a deep ground rumble and then just one short judder. I found later, it was a 3.6 quake according to GeoNet. A quick mental check that I wasn’t sleeping near any rocky slopes, and all was well.
The wind eased overnight and there was no rain. However the temperature had dropped and I was only just warm enough in my sleeping bag. Up at 06:45 and off at 08:30. The trail followed the Timaru River valley south and west, sidling the valley sides and crossing the river a number of times. Wet boots again. I reached the Stodys Hut track junction in the valley at 13:30 at the same time as Rhys (female) from Chicago and Xenia from near Antwerp, Belgium who had set off from Top Timaru Hut before me, so we lunched there together. It’s only 2km from there to Stodys Hut but a climb of 500m, so really steep. After getting rid of excess water in my boots I started the climb at 14:20 , arriving Stodys Hut at 16:20. Rhys and Xenia were there with Jared (from New York). They were going to push on to Pakituhi Hut, about another 3-4 hours as they were short on food and wanted a short exit to Hawea.
I wasn’t on my own for long before Steve and Jason on an overnight trip from Lake Hawea arrived. Jason is home for a couple of weeks from Boston and they are on an anniversary trip of their son/brother’s death a year ago. We briefly shared our stories.
Next in were Murray and Norris From Rotorua/Napier doing the TA by sections in their retirement. Later Veronica from Czech Republic. Jakob and Franziska from Germany. Whit (from San Francisco) arrived at about 19:30. He had a long day from the station hut, nursing a bad hip. He is looking to take some time out after this section. The temperature dropped dramatically with a southerly flow. It was the first evening I had worn my fleece.
With only 6 bunks in the hut, Steve and Jason took the option of a quieter night and descended down to the valley for a camping spot. Before they left, Steve gave me hug; a man with a warm heart.
Not such a long day, but the tracks were hard going. 16km with 700m climb in 8 hours.