Te Araroa: Insert something existential

Jan. 24,2015

Crooked Spur Hut to Camp Stream Hut

I leave Crooked Spur hut while others are still sleeping. I feel like a ghost. Now that I am alone, I rise before dawn. My heart beats fast with anticipation. I don’t even eat breakfast, I just get up and start walking. The early morning mountain shadows keep me cool and lucid. A herd of wild goats grip the side of a nearby mountain, I can smell them before I see them, they smell like blue cheese. We stop to stare at one another. Who’s gonna make the first move fellas?

My mind and body are numb from the split at Lake Coleridge. This time its so bad, I know I won’t see him again. I want to cry but the tears won’t come. Thankfully this section is challenging enough to keep my mind focused on the task at hand. There’s no trail, just miles and miles of tussock. When I leave New Zealand, I will remember the way the wind whips the tussock from side to side, the moaning and swirling, a sound so deafening it might make you feel existential anxiety or set you into a deep meditative state. I am somewhere in between right now.

First climb of the day
First climb of the day

After Stone Hut I come across a nobo thru-hiker. He almost passes me before I stop and ask “Are you hiking the Te Araroa?” “You’ve got a long day ahead of you,” he says businesslike. He looks like the kind of person that has never sharted his pants, or at least the kind of person who would never tell you about it.  He tells me it’s going to take me three hours to get to Stag Saddle from Royal Hut. That seems too long. In fact, I have been hiking the DOC’s predicted times in half. “Uh huh,” I say and move on.

Oh the irony!
Oh the irony!

The route is marked but the markers are few and far between, so I end up stopping a lot to check my position. But I’m having one of those days where I can’t get a sense of where the route is going, so I end up zig zagging a lot. I end up fighting more tussock than I have to, but I feel like a warrior. I feel strong even though I can hear him calling me weak. He used to think I was the toughest girl he’d ever met but not anymore. No I am not No I am not No I am not weak.

pick your line
pick your line

I’m on my way to Royal Hut and my map informs me that Prince Charles and Princess Anne reputedly visited [Royal Hut] as children, hence the hut’s name. I wonder if it’s going to be purple and gold with gems scattered around. I take a short lunch break and finish off an old cigarette butt I find inside. Just keepin it classy. It makes me feel dizzy.

It's gonna be a triple hut day
It’s gonna be a triple hut day

After Royal Hut you begin the climb to Stag Saddle, the highest point on the Te Araroa. It is not as difficult as I was told, and get to the top in 1.5 hours.

Stag Saddle and Lake Tekapo in the distance
Stag Saddle and Lake Tekapo in the distance

From here you choose between a tussock choked creek walk to Camp Stream Hut, or a gorgeous ridge walk with trail. PLEASE CHOOSE THE RIDGE WALK! Head to the right. Here’s why:

Big Mountains! Oh wow!
Big Mountains! Oh wow!

If you do the lower route you will not get to see these beautiful mountains! Also, the ridge is a lot easier to walk.

You can get a break from tussock!
You can get a break from tussock!

That turquoise body of water is Lake Tekapo. The reason for its color is due to glacial feed created by glacial flour, the extremely finely ground rock particles from the glaciers. This is my favorite color and I decide at that moment to name my first born child Teal, if I should ever have a first born child. Any takers? Ha! I kid I kid! Uhhhmm.

Eventually you’ll have to exit the ridge on the left and back into tussock. Down here it’s thick, and you’ll miss walking the ridge where you were able to stretch out your stride and look around. Eventually, you’ll catch a 4wd dirt road on the left of the creek and this leads to the old but quaint Camp Stream Hut built in 1898.

Come on in
Come on in

An old timer greets me but he’s hardier and sets up his tent outside the hut. He tells me his first and last name and that he can’t hear very well. “It’s taken me three days to go what you’ve done in a day!” he says with regard. I wish I knew him, I wish he was my grandfather. I like old people better than young people. Young people can be so sarcastic and mean.

Someone has left honey soaked rice crispy treats for anybody! Trail magic! It’s still early enough to push on but I like this little human-made structure too much. So I read every magazine left behind, and try on silly hats someone hung on nails. There is a Canadian flag draped across the door, and I wonder if it’s left untouched because Canadians are neutral citizens of the world. When there is nothing left to do, I sit on my bunk and wonder what the old timer is doing. I wonder where Cam is and I wonder when this deep guttural pain is going to gush out of me in the form of tears.

19 thoughts on “Te Araroa: Insert something existential”

  1. Chance, the man you described is what I describe as having a pickle up his butt. Teal is a great child’s name, but you don’t need to have a kid to use it! You can always name your pet. We have a dog named Meadow.

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    1. Hey Pigpen, at this stage in my life I can’t have a kid! But it’s fun to ponder. I wish I could have a dog, but I move around too much. I think Meadow is a good name for a dog. I like the name Shrubbery for a cat.

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  2. Hang in there. Love reading about your adventures. My wife and I met you and the whole entourage at Seiad Valley last summer (we were hiking SoBo).

    john and tina Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    1. Hey John and Tina! I remember you two very well. You two were so kind! How did your hike go?
      I am back in the States…writing in the present tense…going off of some notes I wrote in Camp Stream Hut. I enjoy writing so much more on a lap top than on my Iphone!

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      1. No, that’s not the same movie. This one us about the Maori people and their relationship with a non-Maori woman made in 1993.. Holly Hunter played the lead & won best actress, with Harvey Keitel as the Maori. Anna Paquin won an Oscar for best supporting actress. Many nominations, including Best Picture. It was one of that years’ best films. For what it’s worth, my husband hated it. But I loved it. I’ve seen it twice.

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      2. I’ll check it out! With regards to the Maori people, I saw more on the North Island than on the South Island. Like Native Americans, they are a minority and experience racism. I get the sense that Americans think NZ is a utopia, but it has it’s problems.

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      3. Anybody in The US who saw that movie would understand that NZ us not the utopia some think. The Maori were treated horribly. You may not love the movie, but it would resonate with you. Beck in the states, eh? I’m getting back into shape. Once my doc gives me tge thumbs up, I’m doing the Superior trail solo. A couple years back, a young woman kayaked the shores of Lake Michigan. At some point in a campsite, she was raped. She quit. Last year she tried it again, and was successful. If she can do that, this ole lady can do a solo of Superior. Woman Power!

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      1. No, didn’t know him. His story turned up in a search on another missing AT hiker who was later found dead in AZ. I hiked the AT many years ago and always feel like thru’s from any year are unmet friends, except for the total asses. Seems like LD hikers are always pulled to do something wilder and tougher each year and some are lucky and some aren’t. Congrats on your hike! Thank you for posting the blog and pics.

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  3. Chance, Maybe a happy ending doesn’t include a guy; maybe it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over. Freeing up yourself to be somewhere better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is just moving on. Since I am older, it warms my heart to hear someone your age say you like old people. That is not always the case these days. I have no grandchildren, if I did I would hope they would show the strength, spirit, wisdom and courage that I see in you. I would want them to have the heart to live life on their own terms. I would want them to read you, try to understand and appreciate what you share. This is a quote from Mark Twain that is one of my favorites and I hope will make you smile. “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

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  4. “I like old people better than young people”. Thank you Chance, Life Happens in so many variables and that quote made my day and resonates hope… Hike On!!

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