Trust Power Campsite(1377.2)-Lake Coleridge/Methven(1395)
We got going early for the 18mi/29km mostly dirt road walk to Lake Coleridge. Yes, we were just in Arthur’s Pass and now we are reaching another town. This situation is a bit convoluted, so here’s a somewhat direct explanation. When we hit the town of Lake Coleridge, the Te Araroa goes right up to a large river that can never be forded, the Rakaia River. The official route is to hitch over 60mi/100km to get to the other side of the river. So yes, that’s a 60mi/100km hitch to go 1km of trail from one side of the Rakaia to the other. The first ~30mi/50km hitch takes you halfway from Lake Coleridge to Methven, which shouldn’t take too long to get if timed correctly. You don’t have to go all the way to Methven, but it is convenient for resupply and a town stop, so many do stop there. That was our plan for today. We were hiking by 6:30am, and the morning colors were great as we packed up.
With the way the restricted camping is in this area, and with no camping in Lake Coleridge, hikers abiding by the rules need to complete an 18mi/29km day before hitching. Most of it is an uneventful, scenic, quick dirt road walk. It was a great morning for it with a strong tailwind at our backs.
Towards the end of today’s walk, there is a 3km track that goes along Lake Coleridge. Since this is the TA, we can’t go a full day with dry feet, and we had to walk in the lake a few times. Dang! We climbed up to avoid a deep part, but accepted defeat and walked in the water after that. So close to a full day without wet feet!
The funny part about this track is that it clearly asks that hikers stay on the marked trail that ridiculously takes you maybe just 5-20m away from the old road path to go through a swampy area or into tall grass covered in sheep. It’s really odd and even all the orange markers were written in by kind hikers that warn you of the upcoming useless obstacle and to stay on the faint road.
We hit Lake Coleridge to hitch out at 12:15pm, and nothing is there. We could see the Rakaia in the distance, but not as clearly as usual with a lot of dust in the air with the high winds.
We got lucky with it being Sunday and cars were leaving the lake area after weekend excursions. Our first hitch came within 10mins. A full truck that let us ride in the back partway down the road to a better intersection.
When we got out the wind was super strong and it was almost hard to stand up. Fortunately, we had a hitch within 15 minutes the rest of the way to Methven.
We were in town by 2pm and checked into the great Mt Hutt Bunkhouse. We thought about resupplying and turning it around without staying overnight, but there were enough things to do that we knew it would be good to stay overnight. We did town chores, and ate at an all you can eat Thai buffet with ice cream dessert. I got to Skype with my sister and Becky and Tom! An update on Becky and Tom is below…
Getting the ~30mi/50km hitch to the other side of the Rakaia can be an all day task as it is a rarely traveled direction on forking roads with not a lot of thru traffic. There are some options for paying for a shuttle from Methven to the other side of the Rakaia, and we decided to do that to make it simpler. So basically, it takes at least an overnight to go 1km of trail by hitching 60mi/100km to get to the other side of a river where there is no formal shuttle setup. What we will take tomorrow is the local school bus. At 6am, before his route, local school bus driver Don will pick us up and get us to the other side of the Rakaia, 1km from where we left the trail today. It’s the best deal at $20NZ/$15US per person. It’s already almost midnight here, so I need to get to bed!
My video chat with Becky and Tom was wonderful. They zeroed in Hanmer Springs today and celebrated passing the 2000km mark with the popular hot springs and sauna there. They are really having a great time at a more leisurely pace and are hiking in a nice group of 5-6 people.
All is going great, and they are just over a week or so back. This is perfect for our planning as Griggs and I will be doing a few days off trail at the end of this leg to do some things at Mt Cook, and visit a friend I have near the next trail town of Lake Tekapo. Little by little, as I do these side trips, we will eventually reunite. We have big plans hopefully coming up by the time Becky has her 21st birthday in a few weeks on February 17th. Here are a couple more photos from them.
Ok, so tomorrow we head out again. The big obstacle to note is that the day after tomorrow, we will approach the Rangitata River. A large braided river of many crossings that may or may not be fordable by the time we get there. We want to try to ford it, but if we can’t, there is a hitch around to the other side of it. It will all just depend on how low the water gets by the time we get there. Good news is that the first two days out look to be clear before some rain returns, but nothing major. Lots coming up!