Aspiring Hut-Shelter Rock Hut
I slept horribly last night. My stomach is a mess. I’m not sick, and I know that, but I’ve been nauseated from all the transportation lately, and now it’s more of an anxious/nervous stomach feeling as I am mentally working my stomach into even worse contortions. My stress comes out in my stomach, and once stomach stuff gets triggered for me, it snowballs and is very tough for me to get it normal again. I get a stomach ache, then worry about having stomach issues, then that gives me more pain, and the cycle just keeps feeding itself. In the hiking life, the problem is that I have to force down food knowing I need it to hike, and that makes it much worse when the last thing I want to do is eat right now. I forced down dinner last night, and spent the whole night trying to keep it down. I just laid there all night with that anxious feeling that I might throw up at any moment. Knowing today was a really challenging day of hiking was working me up even more because I knew I needed to be on my game with lots of elevation right off the bat.
This is not something new to me. I’ve thrown up at least once on almost all my major hikes. It sucks and just gets triggered by both motion sickness and general stress. I have to say this is the worst it’s ever been with a double whammy of the motion sickness compounded by the fact that I’m obviously sad to have said goodbye to Becky. What’s ridiculous is that I made this choice to not finish together, and I can easily change it, but I have to keep telling myself that I’m doing what’s really best for all of us. I know it’s the right choice, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a sad decision. It’s ok to be sad, and shows how much I really do care. I know I just need to give it time to pass. Basically, I need to get out of my anxiety ridden head to get a reset for my stomach. It is with this mindset that I warned Griggs that I may throw up today, but that it’s nothing I’m not used to. I also knew that some intense hiking like today could help to get my mind and stomach distracted.
We were headed over Cascade Saddle today. This is THE trip that is recommended to do in Mt Aspiring National Park, but you have to wait for the right weather window to be able to do. Fortunately, the stars aligned and the dates worked great for doing it right after the birthday festivities in Queenstown. We set off for the 3hr climb up to Cascade Saddle from Aspiring Hut at 7:30am. It was three hours for us at top condition, so it tends to take up to 6hrs for some. It seriously was 3hrs of steep climbing. It was humid down low, and I was dripping sweat for the first hour or so until we got higher. The views looking down over the Matukituki River Valley were great.We were fortunate that, clouds were blocking the sun to keep any strong heat away. My stomach was not doing great, but I just kept trying different mental strategies to distract it and hoping it would pass. I dry heaved twice and had many large burps all day, but managed to not throw up, so that’s success! The views were quite awesome. So many photos today.
The final part of the major climb gets quite steep. In foul weather, it can be dangerous with how steep it is with the tussock.Once up past the major part of the climb, we got some great alpine walking as we wove over to the main event of Dart Glacier at the top of Cascade Saddle. Again, tons of photos.
Dart Glacier wasn’t as grand as Rob Roy yesterday, but it was more remote and cool to experience. Glaciers are always awesome, and we could hear cracking and shifting at times. It’s much larger than it first appears because much of it is covered by rock and dirt on top of the snow and ice.From there, we were rewarded with pretty smooth hiking the rest of the day. We proceeded to turn down into multiple valleys the rest of the day. Each one was unique and immensely awe inspiring. From the Dart Glacier, we followed the Dart Valley down to Dart Hut. For most, this is a full day trip to make it to Dart Hut from Aspiring Hut, but we are lucky to be in good condition and made it 6hrs to have lunch at the Dart Hut before moving on. While at lunch, a woman from Alaska also stopped in to eat her lunch. Out of nowhere, she randomly asked if either of us needed any cheese. She had accidentally bought a huge block that was too heavy and she wasn’t going to eat it all. We couldn’t believe the timing because I had just earlier expressed my worry that I was going to run out of cheese if they don’t have any in the small town we will be going through before the Routeburn. It was perfect timing! This is the second time in a row this has happened as last time I left my cheese in the fridge in town, and that night Felix arrived with extra cheese to share. I’m lucky with cheese apparently!
From Dart Hut, it was a less than 3hr hike for us to get to Shelter Rock Hut. To get there, we first went up Snowy Creek Valley to Rees Saddle. Griggs got another fun time lapse of me coming up to Rees Saddle.
Then it was through the Rees Valley and along the Rees River to the hut. The views were just great all day!I’m too tired to break it all down, but this was another big day of elevation change. We had 6,442ft/1,936m of ascent and 5,049ft/1,539m of descent. We totally rocked it and felt good about it all day with mostly overcast skies and cooler air. This was definitely a tough one, but really worth the effort. We saw so many different views in the last two days alone. I knew this would be a cool trip to take, but I didn’t expect so many great open valleys with large mountains towering high above. We made it to Shelter Rock Hut just before 5pm, and we were pretty proud of all that elevation change. I was happy that we did it fast enough to finish earlier than usual and just lay down. The shelter has multiple bunk rooms, and few were there, so Griggs and I got a whole bunk room for 8 people to ourselves. Score!
As for my stomach, I’d say it has slightly improved. As the day went on, my stomach got a bit better the more I could take my mind off of it. I’m still having large burps from time to time. Headphones were key. I was still not in the mood to eat at all. I made myself have lunch, dinner, and a few bars, but definitely ate too little for such a physical day. Again, it’s now morphed into an anxious/nervous tightness and discomfort instead of a nauseated one. I’m a bit more relaxed knowing that we hike a half day into town tomorrow, and then I’ll have a rainy day zero to relax while we wait for weather to pass. That better be a good reset! My mind is still working it up more than anything, so I’ve given myself random good things to think about overnight every time I catch myself going down the bad stomach rabbit hole. I have my white noise on with my headphones to also hopefully keep me knocked out and out of my head. Another great weather and scenery day for us!
Wow! Just wow! (And I hope your stomach gets back to normal soon.)
These last two days are my kind of spectacular. Love glacier land!
I already knew we had to return to New Zealand, but you confirmed it with the Keplar and this track! Our 6-month Visa was cut short by 3 weeks when they issued it (we still don’t know why!), so we didn’t have as much time to do all the side trips we wanted with 4 months on the TA and 5 weeks for side trips. All the more reason to return!!!!
Yes, these are great ones to hit!
Yeah, they were good ones. Man, 3 wks shorter sucks!
GORGEOUS photos!!!! Started trying to mentally figure out when I can make it over to New Zealand while reading this post, haha
What gorgeous scenery – fun time lapse of you Erin – glad your tummy is settling down some – you need that energy that food gives you!! Good luck on your zero
Good timing to do the saddles. the huts on this route are normally overflowing in summer,
people normally do the Rees and dart valley circuit. the Dart valley track has been closed at the bottom due to a massive slip creating a lake and rerouting the river to undermine the track, but it will reopen again before long.
DOC were talking about introducing bookings for one or more huts along the route.
people often stay two nights at Dart Hut to do cascade saddle as a day trip from there and that puts extra pressure on Dart hut, it has had twice the no of people as bunks.
pretty much all the fatalities and injuries around cascade saddle happen in wet weather or snow when people dont have adequate gear for the snow or ice. wet tussock grass on a slope can be very slippery. DOC advise this and have had signage there which they have increased in recent years, but still people have gone in bad weather. someone died a month after I did it, it was icy and he was wearing running shoes and slipped on the steep ground and went over a bluff, the other issue is on the upper dart river side, the side streams flash flood in rain. DOC have increased the warning signage in recent years. the large rock basin in the upper dart can be very hot, even outside of summer on a sunny day. I needed four litres of water going over cascade saddle, take advantage of the stream at the top to fill up. DOC recommend if yhou’re going right over cascade saddle to do it in the same direction Erin did it in because of the steepness.
Erin. I’m worried about your tummy. Hope you can give your body time to heal. You have been SO active throughout the TA and that can surely take its toll. Your body will keep sending you messages/clues until you really listen to what it might need. Have you ever considered Helicobacter Pylori as a possible cause…?
DO take care….
I know the cause and usually have a handle on it. I let stress come out in my stomach. Like how you feel when you’re really nervous and might throw up and can’t eat. I get that when I’m under stress, be it emotional, physical, environmental. I’ve gotten good at managing most the time, but when lots happen at once and something triggers it, sometimes it takes time for my mind to stop the cycle of making it worse. Not physical as much as mental.
Yep, I understand the issue of putting stress into your stomach…me too..
You are exactly like me Erin! I have never been able to eat a mouthful of food when nervous, even a sip of water would make me gag. It made dating hard… No dinner dates for me! Lol.
Haha! Not conducive to being stressed while hiking too!
Ah, now that scenery *is* every bit as good as the Pyrenees, Erin! Very, cool to see the glacier…
Sorry about your stomach, though it sounds as if things are improving now. I have had similar problems from time to time and I find that simple indigestion tablets like these are cheap and surprisingly effective, and I recommend them. Any pharmacy or supermarket will sell something similar:
Funny you mention that. Today is being taken to really map out future plans…which seriously include leaving an opening for the Pyrenees. What dates do you recommend?
Walking in the Pyrenees the last two summers my husband and I kept commenting how well we thought the trans-Pyrenean routes would suit you. I’m glad to hear it may feature in future plans. I’m sure Jerry will be along to comment (incidentally, in the small world in which we live, we bumped into Jerry in the Pyrenees last summer!) to say that mid-June to mid-Sept is the usual weather window for that area.
Hi Gayle! I do hope that you and Mick are well. I have not at all forgotten your kindness in fixing my broken nose .. remember that photo, Erin? .. I owe all my continued good looks to Gayle .. and Mick’s, in lending me walking poles.
I have emailed Erin with information about the Pyrenees, not wishing to divert folks here from reading about NZ ..
Indeed, Walking is a small world. If we get to see Erin exploring along the HRP, that will be a real treat
Great to know, thanks! Yes, I think it would suit me quite well.
Hey Erin…I just wanted to take a moment and say how much I admire you. I’ve been following your blog for over two years now…and it recently took on a new relevance for me. Back in December I had a bad fall and broke my left leg badly. Long story, but suffice it to say, after surgery for the break and nerve damage I am finally in physical therapy. I share all of that not to garner any sympathy for myself, but instead to let you know how much it has meant to me being able to read your postings. I haven’t been able to hike at all since this happened, but reading about your journeys of late has really helped keep my head in the right place…outside in the woods. Truly…it really has helped.
I doubt that helps a ton in resetting your stomach, but I hope it helps a little to know how many of us are hiking with you…or in my case, through you. 😉
Take care and hike on!
Aw! That does help a ton Jason. I’ll tell you that over 10 years ago, before I ever hiked long trails, I suddenly severed a ligament in my ankle just days after qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I was at the top of my game and then nothing. It was TOUGH! About a year of my life dealing with recovery and a ton of emotions! It turned out to be the impetus for my move to Oregon when I finally was forced to sit still and really think about what I want in life. It was both the worst and best thing that could have happened to me. I’d venture to say that without severing that ligament, I might never have moved to Oregon and taken up hiking when I found marathons weren’t the same post surgery. I know each day feels like an eternity while healing (especially a leg!) and I hope the PT goes well. I was so obsessed with all my exercises and was scared I’d never be able to use the ankle fully again. I too have nerve damage and feel it with every step, but I’m so grateful it’s nothing that fully prevents being outside. I hope the same for you and that the recovery goes by fast. Thank you for your words<3
Thanks for those kind and encouraging words. You are the best.
Try to get out of your head, I have the same problem as you. Try to think relaxing thoughts and let the scenery calm you. Breathe slow and deep. I can’t wait to see you when you get back to the States, Love you, Paula
Yeah, I know you can totally relate! So funny to have YOU saying to relax. You never sit down;) Looks like I may be coming for the 4th this year!
Thanks for sharing your amazing journey with us. Also, the all pictures you have shared are looking beautiful. Thanks for sharing your experience.