January 25th
Hurunui Hut(1307.1)-Locke Stream Hut(1322)
Mileage: 14.9mi/24km
Campsite Elevation: 1676ft/511m

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook Hikes Te Araroa App.

It rained on and off through the night. I could hear the wind and rain, and was again so thankful to be in a hut! We’d agreed to sleep in knowing it would rain the first half of the day, but when I woke up at 6am, it was one of those days that you really don’t want to go out there to even make the short walk to the bathroom. The rain was coming down steady and the wind was blowing pretty good. Around 7am, Griggs and I looked over options. I was in absolutely no mood to spend a day hiking in this weather and Griggs agreed. We had the Taramakau River to cross possibly at the end of the day if we did a full day of hiking. The chances of being able to do that ford today were 50/50 given this rain, and we are in no rush. We saw that there were many options if we did a shorter day, so we decided to wait for the rain to stop before hiking out. That way we wouldn’t walk all morning in rain, and it gives the river overnight to go down. I was so happy to just huddle in my sleeping bag and sleep in while the rain fell steadily outside. I finished up yesterday’s journal entry and even got to watch a couple episodes of Mozart In The Jungle. Griggs also watches shows on his phone, but is limited to what Netflix has available for download. He watched Grand Tour, which is apparently a really popular car and travel type of show that I’ve never heard of. It was pretty great to sleep in and relax as that rain came down. 

It seemed to be clearing so we started packing up. When we were about to leave at 10:30am, another round of rain came down, so we sat back down to wait it out. Not long after, it completely cleared and we had blue skies. It was so worth waiting to hike out in that instead of rain. 

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, which was greatly welcomed. I’ve been wanting to just walk and that is mostly what we got to do today. No pushing to beat some rain or uncomfortable weather to hike through. Yes, the trail was still soggy, but it was warm enough to be in shorts, so it wasn’t bothersome. The terrain was a mixed bag, but still something we could keep an average pace on and feel like we weren’t draining ourselves. It was enjoyable and finally uneventful for most of the day. 

We did go by a natural hot spring known for having tons of sandflies, so few people actually stay to soak. We didn’t notice many while we were there, I’m not much of a soaker, but I stood in it just for fun. Check me out in a hot spring!

At the end of the day, we had the climb over Harper’s Pass, which was pretty gradual and short. The terrain got slower on each side of the pass with more rocky terrain and quite a bit of spills or washed out trail. We’d heard some portions of the trail had been washed out by the weather bomb about a week ago. There were two somewhat sketchy exposed spills to walk across, but they were short and grippy, so they weren’t bad. 

A recent spill/washout.

Thankfully the crossings today were all small swollen side streams and nothing was difficult. There were also a few suspension bridges and one wire crossing where you basically balance on a metal tightrope. Yeah, it freaked me out. 

The slowest part of the day was the descent from Harpers Pass. It was steep and rocky with loose footing for about an hour and was more taxing than expected. Then the trail seemed to have been washed out in some places as we just hugged the side of the Taramakau River on the way down. It was encouraging that the river wasn’t raging and super loud. 

Top of Harpers Pass

Steep, loose, and rocky.

Tomorrow will be the crossings of the Taramakau that we are worried could be too swollen. It rained some the last hour of our day, but not much. We’ve been told that Harpers Pass is the Divide here and the weather on this side (west) is more extreme. It definitely was cloudier on the west side and we had a forecast that said the rain over the last 24hrs was heavier on this side. 

Looking down on the Taramakau River valley.

We got to our destination, Locke Stream Hut, around 6:30pm. The hut holds 15 and only one other TA couple, Steve and Amelie, were there that I’ve overlapped a bit from time to time since day one. We are all hopeful that we can cross the multiple crossings of the Taramakau tomorrow. I checked the weather using my inReach and the next bout of rain may come midday tomorrow. We are all going to get an early start in hopes of making the crossings before heavy rain falls. There went our relaxing hiking. At least we had one day mostly without stress today. Here are more shots from the day. 

Lunch at Hurunui 3 Hut

Steve and Amelie feel the same as we do. They were part of that group last week that were stuck at Blue Lake Hut for three days waiting for water levels to drop only to get to the Ada River and find it impassible, so the local homestead people that were coincidentally driving out another direction got them out safely. We all just want to walk without such uncomfortable conditions, carrying days of extra food, and having the unknown of if we will be blocked in by high waters with no idea where or how many crossings are ahead tomorrow. I read back on both Why Not and Buck-30’s journals. They had similar experiences in this section. Buck-30’s sounded brutal with really cold and wet conditions. I wonder if anyone does this section and doesn’t deal with some kind of stress or strife. 

As for my foot, it was even better than yesterday. I’m hoping it will eventually fully heal and that it’s nothing major. I think it’s just a swollen ligament from having my shoelace too tight. There is some visible swelling, but it’s less each day and I actually had moments today that I didn’t have pain with every step. It was aggravated again at the end of the day with the steep jarring descent, but not terribly. I am hopeful that it will heal as I hike. Ok, tomorrow we return to more wet hiking, rain, and river crossings. Whoop-dee-do…

I will say that at the end of the day today, when it was raining and we had washed out trail that was slower going, out of nowhere Griggs said, “Even with the rain there really is nothing else I can think of that I’d rather be doing right now.” It’s nice to hike with someone who enjoys hiking so much and really appreciates all aspects, even when it isn’t the most comfortable. 

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