We only ended up doing 14km of the trail today, from the lake edge (2km from the Greenstone carpark) up to Greenstone Hut. This took us 3h20 of walking time. The GPS track for the day is here.
As noted in yesterday’s blog, the plan had been for Chris to drive us round to the Greenstone trailhead (about 1.5hr drive), so we were up about 0700. Unfortunately a family emergency during the night meant that Chris and Jane were not available, so the plan changed to us taking Chris's car around for Graham/Jane W or David/Liz to pick up later, as they were still planning to take the jet boat up to Glenorchy to do some runs up the Dart River. By the time we had loaded Chris's car (about 0920) Jane W had come across to say they were about to go so we might as well go in the car with them - so another change of plan!!
With six of us in the vehicle and the jet boat in tow we set off for Glenorchy about 0930. Driving up, Graham noted that the lake was pretty calm so it was highly likely he could take us across to the Greenstone trailhead by boat rather than car - a great bit of variety for us compared to the usual walking or vehicles (and much quicker)! Having arrived in Glenorchy, the boat was duly launched and Graham and Jane took us across, dropping us off on the shore by Greenstone station at about 1130. The generosity was much appreciated :-)
The trail notes say that the section starts at the carpark (2km up the road) but the GPS track has it starting at the lake edge where we were dropped of, so who knows?! Anyway, after a quick reorganisation we set off just before 1140 for the 2km walk up a nice, quite flat, gravel road to the carpark. It was a bit murky with occasional drizzle so we started with raincoats on. A brief stop at the carpark and we were on the track up towards Greenstone Hut. As part of the well used Greenstone-Caples Track (and as access to others) this was a pretty good track, well benched and surfaced most of the way to the hut. A lot of it was through beech forest, with the odd bit of more open pasture, all the time pretty much following the Greenstone River.
There was a small amount of descent occasionally but essentially it was a nice gradual climb for most of the way. One highlight along the way was spotting another karearea (NZ falcon) sitting in a tree not far off the track. This was just before we reached the swingbridge across the Caples River just above its confluence with the Greenstone River.
Then it was about 500m of more open walking before getting back into forest closer to the true left of the Greenstone again and continuing up the river. Most of the rest of the walk was in beech forest apart from a km of more open flats starting about 5km from the hut. It is a pretty walk, and the quality of the track underfoot makes it very easy to enjoy.
My foot was going surprisingly well considering how sore it had been the last week or so - so that was a plus. B was feeling a bit off her game today after a rest so we decided we would stop at Greenstone Hut (a relatively new 20-bunk hut) rather than try and push on an additional 10km to Taipo Hut. That took the pressure off and allowed us a pleasant unrushed stop for the later afternoon and evening. David had also decided to stop here as he had found that a previous tramping companion, Caesar from California, was also here, so we caught up with him again. The hut was pretty full, as expected, with several tents set up outside as well but we found a bed each in one of the bunk rooms.
Had some lovely chats with a number of the people in the hut, including Jim and his wife Sue. Jim had done heaps of mountaineering in his life and had lots of local knowledge (despite being from Auckland!) and regaled us with some fascinating stories of climbing and tramping in the south!! Despite it being New Year's Eve, we were in bed by about 2115! Hut etiquette and tiredness rule over New Years Eve celebrations out here :-)
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"!!