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Day 159 Fording the biggest TA river

Wednesday 18 March Ahuriri River to Top Timaru Hut Start 9.35am Finish 6.45pm Distance 25km Total 2,525km Steps 36,170 Elevation: 1000m Weather: sunny but cool As predicted this morning was an ice box. A substantial frost had enveloped the area and it was white for as far as the eye could see. I decided I wouldn't get up until the sun actually hit my tent. My sleep was intermittent as the slow leak on my sleeping mat is no longer particularly slow. I had to add air a couple of times through the night as when I moved the ground was so cold underneath me. The next two nights are in huts so I can sort it when I get to civilization.

Ahiriri River

Frosty Tent

Other than it was freezing to get out of bed, there was no point rushing because the first thing I had to do today was cross the largest river crossing of the TA. I wanted there to be sun when I got out the other side to warm me. I prepared for the crossing with military precision. I had warm clothes to change into at the top of my pack for when I reached the other side, everything was in the waterproof liner, pack straps undone and beacon around my neck. I scoped the river from a vantage point high above it. I arrived at my chosen entry point and determined the exit. With trepidation I entered the water...and then easily crossed it. Barely up to my waist and a very manageable flow. It was probably one of the easier crossings I've done. An anticlimax after such expectation and anticipation. It was however absolutely freezing and one of the coldest I've crossed. I immediately changed into my dry clothes and was very grateful for my planning. Yesterday I completed the 2,500km mark just before my little camp but forgot to take a photo. Had then meant to first thing this morning. Same problem - I forgot. Finally remembered on the other side of the river as I was walking along the track. I was debating with myself whether to stop yet again, and then I came across a 2,500km marker in stones ready made for me. With it all laid out for me I stopped to take the photo.

The 2,500km mark

Almost all the people I am in the hut with tonight have the view they now want the TA to be over. I had a good day and found the scenery at its mind blowing best so I am hanging onto my feelings of not wanting it to end. The only negative is how cold it is. Although there were times it was warm today, once again, despite the sunny day, there was a bitter wind. There was yet another 800m climb over a saddle. The difference to other saddles was the size of the rocks. It wasn't small shingle, it was large sharp boulders that looked like they had recently fallen off the surrounding mountains. The track was excellent so other than the steepness of the climb, it was easy to follow. The magnitude of the sheer cliffs, the depth of the valleys and the rich colors made it spectacular.

I arrived at the 6 bunk hut on the last of my energy. It was already full. I was prepared for a cold night in my tent, but then the very kind people in the hut rearranged themselves, with a couple sharing a bed, so I could sleep inside. It is lovely to be reminded of how kind people are. Of the seven of us, five are New Zealanders, including one man in his seventies, who did the TA four years ago and he has come back to redo the sections he liked the most. I want to be doing that in my seventies. Inspirational.

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