Update 22: Cascade Saddle Side-trip

Day 103: Friday February 15th, 10.9mi/17.5km

Wanaka Base Hostel (2666/289m) to Aspiring Hut (9.5/485m) + 8km Rob Roy trail

I get up at 7am, for the 8am bus to the trailhead. I didn’t sleep well, because two people cam into the room last night at 3am and unpacked – Wtf?  I walk to the bus stop and have a nice chat with a Kiwi who just sold his local home. The 2 hour bus ride is nice, and I start walking at 10am. 

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Even though the Cascade-Rees Saddle track is a side-trip, I take a short side-trip from it, up to the Rob Roy glacier.

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The scenery is spectacular, and it’s an easy 4km walk on a nice trail.

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The 4km trail ends at a spot named “Upper Lookout”, and there certainly is plenty to see.

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I see sooo many tourists on my way down. I rejoin my original track, and hike for about 15 minutes to find a nice quiet spot away from the tourists. I take a break and have lunch, and dry my tent. 

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It’s a nice, flat, easy 2 hour walk up the Matukituki River valley.

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And there are plenty of cows. Moo.

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I arrive to the Mt. Aspiring Hut early at 2:30pm.

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There is a big Dutch group there, and also 3 or 4 Israelis. I get setup in my bunk, and have a nice conversation with a German guy over dinner. The view from the dinner table is pretty sweet.

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I go to bed at 9:15pm, and it’s loud in the hut – grrr. Eventually I fall asleep around 10pm.

 

Day 104: Saturday February 16th, 16.4mi/26.4km

Aspiring Hut (9.5/485m) to Shelter Rock Hut (35.9/895m)

I sleep in a bit until 7am, since everyone was so loud last night. I pack up and eat, and all the Dutch group is still sleeping – ha! I start hiking just before 8am, and it’s a nice trail in the forest.

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The trail climbs up and up, somewhat steeply.

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Just before treeline, I pass a group who is just breaking down their camp…at 9:30am! As I get higher, views of the Matukituki River valley (that I hiked up yesterday) appear.

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And looking up the valley:

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I climb very steeply another 700m above treeline. It’s so steep, that this is not a trail that I would consider hiking in the other direction.

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Up in the fog, I see some cool Kea birds! They are native to the South Island of NZ, and the world’s only true alpine parrot. Quite large too, at 1kg and about 50cm long.

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The trail becomes especially steep near the top part of the climb.

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I get to the top of the climb at 10:30am, and then over to the Cascade Saddle at 11:30am.

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What amazing views!

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As I descend from the saddle, the Dart Glacier comes into view.

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It’s an easy descent down to the bottom of the Dart glacier, and I pass a few hikers coming up, including a DOC ranger.

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I get to the Dart Hut at 2pm, and have a very late lunch. The view from the hut is spectacular, and there is a paraglider in the distance!

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I chat with a nice Kiwi couple, and an American from Rockville MD. I continue on at 3pm, climbing up to Rees Saddle (el. 1471m)

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I arrive to Shelter Rock Hut just before 6pm. The Israelis are here, and I have dinner and conversation with them for awhile. I didn’t sleep well the last two nights, so I’m in bed early at 9:15pm tonight. 

 

Day 105: Sunday February 17th, 11.7mi/18.8km

Shelter Rock Hut (35.9/895m) to Muddy Creek Carpark (54.7/510m)

I get up at later 7am, since I know it’s a short 5-hour hiking day. I get dressed and move over to the kitchen building (it’s a large hut complex!), and eat breakfast while catching up on journal entries. I depart at 8am, and it’s a cold morning – I wear my red puffy coat until 9:30am!

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Looking back at the hut:

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There are some nice waterfalls along the way.

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I don’t see anyone else all morning until 25-mile creek at 11am.

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I cross the swingbridge over 25 Mile Creek, and then I see 12-15 people all at once, hiking into the park. It’s a nice warm sunny day, and the morning flies by with mostly enjoyable hiking. 

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I get to the carpark at 12:45pm, a little early for my 2pm ride to town. I sit down and eat, and a guy from San Francisco chats with me for 10 minutes before he begins his hike. I entertain myself for an hour, and my arranged ride comes at 2pm. 

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Another girl shows up at exactly the same time, and asks for a ride, and she comes too. We get to Glenorchy at 2:45pm, and I promptly get a campsite and lay down in the nice warm sun. 

I wander over to the general store at 5pm and get dinner, and then visit the lake. After a long shower, I’m in bed at 10pm.

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