The Heaphy Track: Long Distance & Lots of Rain
Trip Start Nov 10, 2013
18Trip End Apr 02, 2014
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The morning we began our hike was - you guessed it - raining
The forecast for the following day looked bleak, and the weather did not disappoint. It rained incredibly hard that first night; so hard in fact, that I woke up to the sound of the rain pelting the sides and top of the rain fly on the tent. We quickly broke camp and trudged on through the mist, taking a brief rest stop after 7 km at the Gouland Downs. After Shaun and Mike finished making coffee, we continued on towards Saxon Hut via subalpine scrubland and tussock. From there, it was a long 17.2 km go towards the James Mackay Hut (our destination for the day), through periods of mist and drizzle, brief sunshine, and then pounding rain squals
That night was a brutal sleep, as it rained hard and heavy almost all night long. The wind gusts would buffet the tents and the wooden platforms caused the rainwater to pool and eventually soak through the tent footprints and into the bottom of each tent, completely soaking packs, clothes and sleeping bags alike! Becoming mobile at 8 am, we assessed the situation and decided to ex nay our initial plan of leaving the tents set up, while we made a day-trip another 30-odd Km down the track to some pretty scenery along the coast. But with no pretty scenery to be seen, and our gear already drenched, we decided to break camp and haul ass through the rainstorm back the way we had come. The local Ranger had informed us that the Gouland Downs Hut would be unoccupied that night, and he said that if we liked, he would be willing to allow us to stay there and dry out our tents and gear.
Thanking this friendly, helpful, and sympathetic Department of Conservation Ranger, we quickly headed out into the eye of the storm
Fortunately for me, Shaun and the bros were faster hikers than I and they had gone ahead to the Gouland Downs Hut and got a fire going. Upon arrival I joined the others in beginning to dry out my effects, while it continued to just piss outside the 8-bunk hut. Now warm, and I dry, I was tired and crawled into bed before the others, only to awake to a mouse crawling around my ears across the bunks. This resulted in a hut-wide search and destroy mission, which we eventually accomplished before again trying to return to sleep.
Day 4 of the Heaphy Track started the same as the previous 3... with rain. In fact, this was the 6th consecutive day of rain in a row! Uff-da! Eventually though, the rain began to let up and with the same fire from the previous day still drying our things, our spirits began to lift. We decided that this would be a good day to just relax, hang out in/around the hut and recoup after the previous wet weather days. At one point during the afternoon, Mike, Kevin and I went for a short little walk through the nearby Downs and stumbled upon a cave which we then spent the next 1.5 hours exploring thoroughly via the light on Mike's iPhone (we had all left our headlamps back at the hut, see...). This unmarked, extensive cave network was incredibly cool: filled with stalagmites and stalactites, as well as rushing water and local NZ insects called Weva.
... To Be Finished (when I get more reliable internet access...)