NO PHOTOS - TOO WET TO GET CAMERA OUT!
Water, water everywhere...
The "low" did arrive and we could hear the rain all night. Boo. We woke at about 8 and battled mentally for about an hour before accepting that the rain wasn't going to stop and that we would have to get up and pack up in the wet (the yuckiest job but luckily for me Scott is very good at it :0)). Before we'd even left the tent we found that the brilliant DOC astro-turf mat had let rain water puddle under our tent and the bottom of the tent and our mats were sopping! Double boo. I dashed down to the shelter which would have been useful if it had sides - there was one drier corner where the wind hadn't quite driven the rain. We had breakfast with numb hands and feet and moaned about packing up wet kit with Josh before the inevitable - stepping out in to the rain for the day. We noticed that everybody from the hut had already left and wer jealous of their dry night and pre-walk comfort!
Wow, we'd never seen water like it. The path was, at best, a stream and we had to hop across large streams to progress. For the first half an hour or so we thought that it would be best to try and keep our feet as dry as possible and were carefully selecting footholds. That was until the large streams became very large streams caused by waterfalls right next to the path and suddenly not being swept away was more inmportant than a shoefull of water! On route we passed the 174m Earland Falls and rather than take the flood route we crossed at the upstream bridge, it hadn't been swept away so we thought it must be safe! The wind casued by the waterfall was so fierce it was difficult to stay upright and keep your contact lenses in! Crazy. It took us two hours to reach the next hut, Howden, which resembled a ski hut at lunchtime adn we couldn't even get in. Instead we scoffed peanuts and dried fruit outside on the front deck. A guide advised us that the Capels would be very flooded today to we opted for the lower level Greenstone which is an open river valley and would probably just be a bit muddy. It was also around here that we dicided that we couldn't camp tonight, we were wet through and had a wet tent. We had to get to a hut.
We power-walked the next section too, to McKellar hut, through more forest, beside a lake and over a very low saddle. At the hut we stuffed more snacks quickly down out throats and opted to push on to the Greenstone hut as we were being picked up at 14:00 tomorrow, and wouldn't make the pick-up from McKellar. It was 15:20 when we set off on the next section which should take 4.5-6.5 hours!
It wasn't long before we traversed our first, full-flowing river. There was no rock hoping to be had, in you go, face upstream so you're less likely to be knocked over and slowly edge across. One you'd been in one they became quite fun and were brilliant at washing all the muck off your lower legs and shoes! One was deep enought to get my shorts wet! The walk was through a brown tussock valley, sometimes through forest, across landslides and rivers - never a dull moment! We even lost could of how many rivers we crossed. One excting thing we saw was a tree falling down! We heard a loud creak and looked left to see the huge beech tree topple over, luckily we were about 100m from it so could admire it in safety.
Our power walking day came to an end just as it was becming dusk. We made the walk in 4 hours 20 and were blessed by the rain stopping about 2 hours from our destination. The thought of a dry hut for the night was a big motivator during the day! The hut reminded me of a hunters cottage from childrens nursery tales, nestled in the trees, all cosy looking and with smoke curling from the chimney. It also looked busy, there were many coats hanging up outside and we were terrified there would be no room at the inn! Luckily there was space for two in the "snorers room" (I didn't care if they snored, it was dry and warm) and we found a double top bunk in a really nice, new nut with flushing tiolets - yippee! The hut had no power so we cooked by the light of our head torches and chatted to a deer hunter from Queenstown, and travellers from New York and Sydney. We found that everything in our pack was wet too (we had pack covers but not pack liners, oops) so dried our sleeping bags and pillows out as best we could over the wood burner. It worked and I was very happy to be sleeping on a rubber mattress with 5 snoring men!