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. 



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.


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


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





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. 


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


And there are plenty of cows. Moo.



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


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.


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.


The trail climbs up and up, somewhat steeply.


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.


And looking up the valley:


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.


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.



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


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


What amazing views!



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



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.


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!



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)



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!


Looking back at the hut:


There are some nice waterfalls along the way.


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




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. 


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. 


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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