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Day 124 Waiau Pass Conquered

Tuesday 11 February Lake Constance to somewhere beyond Waiau Hut Start 7.20am Finish 5.45pm Distance 18.5km Total 2,011km Steps 34,096 Elevation up 600m, down 1100m Weather: sunny Waiau Pass was as amazing as it promised to be. The views on the way up and from the top were worth the climb. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. In reality it wasn't as difficult or technical as I was expecting. I think parts of the Richmond Ranges are harder. The descent was harder than the climb, which is often the case because it is so painful on the knees.

Waiau Pass
The track up Waiau Pass

I set my alarm for 5.30am. I went immediately back to sleep and didn't get up until 6.30 am and set off at 7.20am. As it happens that worked out to be the best timing for the sun coming over the mountains. I was still up and at the base of the climb to the pass before the guy who camped at the head of the lake was up. I was grateful for this as I didn't want to share the top when I got there. I had about half an hour on the summit to soak it all in before I started the descent to the valley below. There were at least another 12 people crossing the pass today, so I was grateful for the peace and tranquility I had. I am so pleased I was an hour and a half ahead of the main pack staying at the hut. It ensured I didn't feel rushed or part of a crowd.

Half way up to Waiau Pass looking to Spencer Mountains
Three quarters of the way up to the Pass, looking to Lake Constance

When I arrived at the summit I strangely had not anticipated more mountains on the other side. In my mind it opened out into a wide flat valley. I should really look at the map more carefully. There were pockets of snow around, although the morning was very warm. Alongside one river was a large chunk of snow melting very slowly into the river. That is the primary reason I didn't swim today. The weather was tropical enough, and there were stunning waterfalls and swimming holes. However, the glacial temperature of the water kept me out.

View to Lake Constance from the top of the Pass
View to Waiau River Valley from Waiau Pass

Once down in the valley the walking became very easy and flat. In anticipation of a very full hut I continued for a few more kms, and have pitched my tent on a grass savanna next to the river, and a few spartan trees. For company I have about 500 giant sized sandflies trying to get in my tent to eat me. I stuck my hand out earlier to put something outside and when I pulled it back in there were 5 of the little buggers attached. I'm hostage in here for the duration.

Looking back to the Pass

I reached the 2000km mark today! Two thirds of the way there. Very hard to believe.

2000km mark. Two thirds of the way there.

Campsite night 124

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