22ed December, Te Araroa
Richmond Alpine Track 82
Slaty hut 1861km to Old Man hut 1869km (8km)
As predicted the weather has changed for the worst, three of us were in the hut for the night and by 8 o’clock, the guy that arrived late last night had packed up and left. He was a large guy that carried a backpack that looked more like a suitcase on wheels and when he opened it up, there laid two large Tupperware containers to hold his gear.
Slaty hut, leaving behind the warmth , (crazy)
Ken the American wasn’t keen to exit the hut and decided to stay and wait out the weather, I was tempted myself to stay as the hut was nice and warm with Ken throwing more wood on the fire. But I decided to move on and leave the warmth of Slaty hut to hopefully cross the ridge at Mount Rintoul. My backup plan should the weather get worse was to go off trail and stay at Old Mans hut which was just before the section where it has warnings of crossing in only in good weather.
Ken said the worst of the weather was to hit us at 1pm, so at about 9 o’clock I started my walk for the day in the slight drizzle. The going was challenging, in the exposed areas where there were no vegetation to provide shelter from the winds, I was getting pushed about with wind gusts and a number of time I had lost my footing and stumbled. There were orange poles along the way to guild me from one pole to the next, however, visibility became very limited were at times I could only see 10 metres ahead and on one accession I followed the wrong track which turned out to be an animal track. My GPS map on my phone became very handy to get back on track but this wasn’t until about 45 minutes going around, what seemed to be circles, to get me back on the original track. The GPS is very handy but its accuracy is only 5-8 meters and when visibility was limited and the track so narrow, it can be challenging.
Along the ridge, winds were very strong and with each step being very difficult and with the ridge being narrow, I took things really slow. Maybe I should have stayed back in the hut.
I arrived at the junction where I could either carry on or head down the 200 meter drop in elevation to the Old mans hut. Wasn’t a hard decision with the rain becoming stronger and my inner layer clothes were getting wet and cold was setting in. So I decided to tackle the Mt Rinbul tomorrow when the weather is forecasted to be better and headed down the rough track towards the shelter .
On arrival there was one other person and she was also waiting out the bad weather on her second night in the hut, with the fire taking the chill out of the room . So that night I had all my clothes hanging out above the fire drying out and in the five bunk hut that I sheared with the Canadian woman (MikTurje) that were doing the South island only, I relaxed and had a nanny nap in the afternoon.