Jeremy picked Simon and I up in his clown car (his description) and we drove South. The better part of the day got us to the Greenstone carpark and we headed off in the heat up the track. It was a very warm afternoon and I walked T-shirt-less to try and stay cool.
The track took us up the Caples River, which disappointingly was full of cows. We got to the hut after a few hours and met Annu on her way back from swimming. She told us the swimming hole was amaaaaazing. We also took a dip in the cold water flowing from a deep ravine.
There were very few people in the hut, despite our predictions. We chatted to the DoC ranger a little and then started making dinner. The hut was so empty we had a whole bench to spread out onto, which of course I did. I had two huge dry bags of food as Simon and I had bought enough for every eventuality in the supermarket the day before.
We set off the following day before the heat. The route took us up the wide valley on a well formed track.
Lunch was by the river with a pre-lunch dip in the cold refreshing water.
As we weren’t in a hurry we made multiple cups of tea.
Then it was on and up towards the McKellar Saddle. We spotted what looked like the Matterhorn from the saddle but we were pretty sure we hadn’t stumbled into Europe. There were nice views from the saddle back the way we’d come. In the other direction we could see Key Summit across the valley, which reminded me of my walk up there with Leonie in 2013.
After a break in the shade on the other side of the saddle we hobbled down to the valley floor at old-man-with-dodgy-ankle pace. We had a break near Lake McKellar then another 45 mins of walking and we were at the hut. So was everybody else. We swam in the river again and heated our packet curries for dinner. The mild almost killed Annu but to be honest it wasn’t that mild. We ate in the crowded hut and it kept filling up until it was well over capacity. There was a surprising number of internationals considering the covid situation.
We hung around for a bit outside in the evening.
The following day we walked out to Greenstone hut. It was another hot day. The valley was quite open and there were cows making a mess of the waterways. I walked ahead arriving at the hut around 3pm. We went in search of somewhere to swim after the others arrived. A steep bank took us down to a river some way up behind the hut. The water was cold but refreshing as usual and we washed away the sweat from our skin.
It was a nice evening in the hut. We sat outside on the balcony and chatted amongst ourselves and with some of the other trampers. The hut is on the TA so there were trampers walking that too. We had another go at making chocolate moose and made a slimy chocolate dessert also. Yum and yuck.
The final day was Monday and we walked out in much cooler overcast weather to the car. Then it was back to Queenstown for a Ferg Burger. Jeremy and Simon kept driving North to Christchurch and I went to stay with Chris and Emily in Queenstown.