• Kay

Day 122 Hi Gisela

Sunday 9 February

John Tait Hut to West Sabine Hut (over Travers Pass)

Start 6.45am

Finish 5.25pm

Distance 15km

Total 1,983km

Steps 21,990

Elevation Up 1,100m, down 1,200m

Weather: Stunning

I thought the Richmond Ranges was as good as it could get, and yet I am lying here trying to think of superlatives that express more than incredible, majestic and amazing. The mountains here just tower over you, all scree and rock with patches of snow still showing.

The day started cold. When I was wiping the condensation from the bottom of my tent this morning, it was ice. Who would have thought in February it would be that cold. A good reminder of what the elements are capable of in the mountains.

Waterfall just before John Tait Hut

I began walking with a beanie, gloves and puffer jacket and it wasn’t until10am that I took off the last warm layer. The trail up to Upper Travers Hut was in Beech forest and a gentle incline. The Travers Waterfall was highlight and very definitely worth the slight detour. After the Upper Travers Hut you enter an amphitheatre of mountain peaks. The only way out was down the valley I came, or straight up over the mountains. So straight up it was.

I took so many photos. Each time I looked around there was a new angle or view which seemed to highlight the spectacular scenery even better. At the top of Travers Pass I took a leisurely lunch break. The weather was stunning. Not a cloud in the sky and only the slightest breeze.

Travers Waterfall

On the summit were three German Tourists who said there had been about 30 people at t e Upper Travers Hut last night, all heading fr the Blur Lake Hut today. I had been contemplating pushing for there today but that news sealed it for me. I do not want to share Waiau Pass with 30 other people. Added to which the number of times I was stopping to take photos and take in the views and ambience, meant that the feasibility of making it there was minimal anyway.

An incredibly steep descent from the summit culminated in the crossing over a bridge where the river had been channeled into a deep canyon. I couldn’t see the bottom, I could only hear the roar of the river.

Sabine River East Branch Valley looking towards Mahanga Range (from Travers Pass
Travers Valley
St Arnaud Range

I arrived at the West Sabine Hut to my worst nightmare, and what I had been trying to avoid. There were at least 30 people already there.Not all doing the TA, there were also a number from the Motueka Tramping Club. After last night’s ice I have decided to sleep in the hut with the earplugs firmly in. Lets see how it goes.

In the hut book there was a message for me from a Nelsonian, Gisela, I first met when I worked with her at NMIT many years ago. That was very cool and made my day. Thanks Gisela.

Gisela's message at the bottom of the page

A final note – my phone appears to be broken. The message comes up when I try to charge it that there is moisture in it, and it won’t charge. That is a little concerning as it is my primary navigation tool. So this blog was written with good, old, dependable pen and paper.

The plan for tomorrow is for an easy day, to camp at the head of Lake Constance. The Hut Warden here said there are camp sites. The weather forecast for the next two days is great so I want to take my time, just enjoy the scenery and soak up the atmosphere, and hopefully avoid the crowds.

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