We left the hut about 0755 this morning - always a bit later than we plan, but still not long after the light is good enough for us (generally around 0730)! We got to Blue Lake Hut at 1700 covering 14.5km, so a 9 hour day in total, involving around 7h50 walking. The GPS data for the day is here.
Lots of photos again today as the day was very varied with lots of great scenery from our viewpoint! The day started with a climb up to Travers Saddle which, at 1787m, is almost 400m higher than the hut. Markus and Nana had left a little before us. You are pretty soon above the bushline, into mainly tussock and rock :-), with some lovely views back down towards the hut and the Travers River. We did notice that the mist was rolling into the valley behind us, so a good time to be heading up! We passed Markus on the way up - he is an avid photographer and was setting up a shot back down the valley. We arrived at the Travers Saddle after 1hr20 and 2km, enjoying a 15 minute break with Markus and Nana there as well, before heading off down the other side on a long descent.
From here, we knew we had a >1000m descent before climbing back up again to Blue Lake Hut!! We headed off first, initially down a fairly steep rocky descent. Not long after, the descent continued down a steep ridge through beech - this part was pretty treacherous because of the mud generated by the overnight rain. Suffice to say we took it rather slowly!! The initial ~900m descent was over about 2.5 km. This took us down to the Sabine River East Branch which we more or less followed (but with some ups and downs) - this was a bit muddy in places, with some small steep pinches thrown in for good measure. This took us over to the Sabine River West Branch (~160m lower than where we hit the East Branch), which we followed up for a short distance to West Sabine Hut, reaching there at 1310. This was about 5.25 hours in total (about 5hr walking) - we were pretty happy with that especially given the slow nature of parts of the descent from Travers Saddle.
Left this hut at 1400 and it took us the full 3hrs to get to Blue Lake Hut, including a couple of brief rests along the way. This was a climb of about 520m over 7km. There were more stunning mountains to view, but this part of the track was mostly in bush. There were some steeper bits along the way, including the last bit to Blue Lake Hut. Some parts were a little muddy, but not too bad overall. We arrived feeling a little tired about 1700 and, after dropping off our packs, shot straight down to Blue Lake for a look at the beautiful clear water. Belinda could hear and see some activity up the slope from the lake, so we assumed we were due some nobo company! Not long after we got back to the hut, three nobos turned up - Josephine from Germany, Nic (Wanaka) and Hayden (US). Markus and Nana followed half an hour later. This is a nice serviced 16 bunk hut but we were a little more restricted than usual due to the fact that the nobo hikers had got a little wet and spread tents etc around the hut to dry! As usual, everybody retired pretty soon after dark!
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!