Distance today: 34.7km
Distance total: 2657.9km
Time hiked: 12h 44min
Time total: 808h 03min
6 o'clock, I have a look out of the window. Not much to see expect clouds and the head of a chamois. Looking like our baby hunters have been successful.
As it's drizzling, I'm not really in a hurry to leave. When I eventually do so, I spot the remaining parts of the chamois neatly hanged on the hut's walls (now I know what made such a hell of a noise last night...).
Visibility is poor until I climb out of the cloud layer and gets even worse when I enter the overlying layer close to a saddle, making navigating through the Tussock difficult. I know it's not the smartest thing to do, but as there are no bluffs or very steep sections in the vicinity, I mostly rely on the GPS. Luckily, visibility improves significantly while descending down. Hiking in the Tussock is still not really pleasant.
At Stone Hut I bump into Aurélien, who I haven't seen since the Richmond Ranges and shortly afterwards into Sarah from Australia, who has always been a day ahead of me since Pelorus Bridge.
At Royal Hut we have a decision to make: stay here or continue to Camp Stream Hut? It's 3 o'clock and another 6 hours to the hut. Aurélien and Sarah push on and I decide to join them, as threre is enough time and the weather forecast is so poor for tomorrow (heavy rain at 2 degrees Celsius. No fun...).
Climbing up Stag Saddle, with 1925 meter TA's highest point, is fairly easy. Mostly through Tussock and a bit of scree fields. After a mandatory selfie and a coffee with Sarah and Aurélien, I descend down to the hut. As it's foggy up here, I decide not to walk on the unofficial ridge track but rather follow the river.
A shame. The views in fine weather would probably be spectacular.
About 200 meter below the saddle I very unexpectedly pop out of the clouds. What a cool feeling and great to have at least some limited views of Lake Tekapo.
It's a long, never ending descent through annoying Tussock. A lot of stress for my knees and ankles. Jasmine joins me for the last few kilometer. She's struggling as well and happy when we reach the hut.
I've been looking forward for my Macaroni since leaving Royal Hut. But my stomach has to wait as unfortunately, the water hose at the Camp Stream Hut is not working. So it's another 50 meter descent to the river to get water. As if I didn't have hiked enough... Well, a huge portion of pasta and a full stomach were worth the additional effort :)