Distance today: 20.8km
Distance total: 2093.6km
Time hiked: 9h 44min
Time total: 615h 42min
The weather can change quickly here in New Zealand. Clear sky when I went to sleep yesterday, strong wind and drizzle this morning.
Even though I'm a bit reluctant to leave this great and especially dry hut, I hit the trail by 6:15. The undulating track stays mostly below the bush line. One short section is exposed to the heavy wind and drizzle though. 15 very uncomfortable minutes... I'm quite happy when the track dives back into the protective bush again.
A 600 meters descent, which gets a bit tricky towards the end, takes me to Browning Hut, which is crowded with some locals on a weekend trip. As the next hut is just an hour away, I continue on a surprisingly wide, well graded track. Only the one odd washed out part is slowing me down a little.
The last few meters to Hackett Hut, my lunch spot, are through high dripping wet grass, reaching up to my chest. Although I'm already soaked, not a particularly pleasant feeling.
A short dry spell is the signal for me to continue to Starveall Hut. Before the track climbs up 900 vertical meters to the hut, it follows a river and crosses it several times. Balancing on these wet, slippery boulders needs a lot of concentration. Because even though I'm soaked anyway, I don't really feel like falling into the river...
I'm not to sad, when the track climbs up and away from the river.
Steep, mostly over roots with a few rocky parts thrown in.
I'd consider myself as rather fit and I have done many steeper and much longer climbs in Switzerland - with a heavy backpack and a bit tired legs I really have to fight on the last meters.
Fabi and Chris, the two Germans I met on the Queen Charlotte Track, arrived a bit earlier at the hut. They started at Hackett Hut this morning and will continue to Slaty shortly. For me though, Starveall is my today's destination. 10 hours of up-and-down in the rain is enough ;)
While drying all my gear in front of the stove, the rain suddenly stops and within seconds, the clouds give way to the sun. Weather can change so quickly here!