Today was absolutely fabulous and totally within my skill level. Also quite a long day, since I walked part of my day 8 plan as well. Good night!
Ok – I guess you want more details? See yesterday’s post for the ascent to the top of the waterfall (technical part one), which I managed with my pack on without issue. The lovely couple in the hut accepted my decision to traverse solo and kindly offered that if I had to turn back at any point I could fly out with them in 2 days time. (thank you!)
It wasn’t all blue skies today, sadly, and there was a bit of cloud around but I was still hopeful that I’d get good views.
The walk along the flats above the waterfall was atmospheric. There were clouds billowing along overhead and the views came and went.
And then, there I was, at Rabbit Pass. The views were stunning and there were avalanches going off on the peak next to me, mostly behind the cloud forming off of it.
There were two technical parts left. The first was to get over this:
Which might look straight forward in the photo, but it was steep and there wasn’t much traction. I had no issues getting across; however, it would have been pretty hard (possibly even impossible) in the wet. I was next pummelled with crazy strong winds. I made sure to be mindful of the edge at all times.
Finally I found the orange marker where I was to descend.
Just one technical challenge to go. The first 30m were ok and then it got steeper and less secure. Every footstep now caused loose rock to pummel down the mountain and most things I tried to get a handhold on simply broke off. I was glad I was by myself – I wouldn’t have liked someone coming down behind me!
I’ve tried explaining this decent to friends without much success. The rock was loose but also grippy if you were covering enough surface area. I have no shame in saying that I sat down, praying my pants would survive, and bum slid my way as carefully as possible down the mountain. At one point I lost hold of my sturdy stick that had supported me for weeks and watched it bounce down a good 30m or more before it came to a halt. (I made sure to collect it!)
Here is a picture looking back up.
I crowed in delight but the smile didn’t last long as I took in the chamois grunting and banging its front hooves at me. I exclaimed to the ‘Gods’ – there was no way i was going to survive river crossings and tricky traverses to be stopped thus! (I hoped). Begrudgingly I climbed back up the mountain a ways and contoured around before descending the valley.
It was time for lunch! I was starving! This first course was devoured.
I have a fear of heights and one of my coping methods is to carry a chocolate bar to consume in my moment of ‘need’. I had carried a Pixie Caramel for 6.5 days now and had not needed it. With no exposed sections to go I devoured this unknown sweet, which Pip had put in my basket. Chewy caramel coated in chocolate. Heaven. Note to self, eat more before leaving NZ.
Post lunch it was a beautiful trudge along the valley to Ruth Flats. It was impressive with Fastness Peak in the background. I had planned to camp here but pushed on to make my chances of getting back to Christchurch the next day higher. Instead, I ended up camping up away from the river with views across to Mount Aspiring, where there was a creek not too too far away to collect water.
A kiwi came to say hello but I hadn’t seen a single person since leaving the hut that morning :) I fell asleep to beautiful bird noises.