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February 9th
Lake Hawea(1590.9)-Wanaka(1606)
Mileage: 15.1mi/24.3km

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook Hikes Te Araroa App.

I feel like a broken record, but it was another great day! Basically, the 15mi/24km from Lake Hawea to Wanaka is a riverside stroll along a gravel bike path with great views. We slept in and started hiking at 8am knowing that we had a shorter day and couldn’t check into our motel until 2pm in Wanaka. It was a crisp morning again, and we were in our down jackets for the first 40 minutes until it warmed up a bit. It was just great walking!

Both of us are constant thinkers it seems with our minds always thinking of multiple things and strategizing this trail and life. It was funny that as soon as we got on the effortless track both our minds were running with scenarios of how to make side trips happen around this area. Once we talked that topic to death and theorized every option, I was excited to put the “multi-tasking terrain” to good use and write yesterday’s blog post using the voice to text dictation on my phone. We spread out a bit while I did that and Griggs had some Spanish he was learning and speaking aloud. It was fun for both of us to get this kind of walking in that is relaxing and energizing at the same time. 

As for the side trips, we have checked the weather and proposed ideas in various combinations and permutations to make your head spin. Since weather isn’t good for Mt Aspiring National Park tomorrow, we have decided to go ahead and hike the few days to Queenstown. 

It does seem that we will have about four days once in Queenstown before Becky’s birthday. If weather cooperates, we would then be able to jump up to Mt Aspiring National Park and get a short trip in. If the weather is still not good, Griggs will hike on to finish the trail, which is only two more weeks, while I find things to do while I wait for Becky and Tom to catch up for about 10 days. 

Those that know me (especially those that have hiked with me) know what an anomaly this is that I would hit the pause button for over a week on a trail. In my gut I know this is the right choice and I want to finish the last two weeks with Becky and Tom. Even if I were to move on and finish the hike in two weeks, my plan would still be to come back here and hit the side trips in this area. All along, the goal had been to move ahead to be able to do my side trips knowing that if I’d stayed with Becky and Tom the whole South Island, I would not have had time to do the side trips I’d wanted. It is common for people to have to wait in this area for weather windows to get to the good stuff. If weather isn’t great, and I need to wait a couple days, I need a couple days to get Tasmania researched more and get all of my travel booked. I think I could spend two days alone just trying to figure out my itinerary for Tasmania. The sooner I do that the better, so that should happen in the next week or two. 

I do feel that I’ve been “in the pocket” on this hike. I like to use that term to describe how things just seem to fall into place very well if I do what I’m supposed to do on my end and put forth the right energy in the right direction. I can’t believe how fortunate I’ve been given the weather to not have to take any days off. Also, to have been able to seamlessly complete both the Abel Tasman and Mt Cook side trips in great weather. I know that being or New Zealand will require waiting for some weather to clear to get my window at times, and it may be my turn to wait once I get to Queenstown. I’m excited for these final few weeks, and I’m open to being flexible, which is pretty big for me. It’s going to be worth it to wait for Becky and Tom, and I’m confident and happy in that decision. Now we just need weather to cooperate next week!

As for today, we had a great time walking along the Hawea and Clutha Rivers on the way to Wanaka this morning. Many people were out along the track running, walking dogs, and biking. 

It was really pleasant and made me super happy to walk along it. I think it’s also the culmination of such a great string of days recently that just gives that extra boost in my step. Just really happy!

Becky will be back soon!

As we walked into town and past the Yacht Club, we came upon a car with a license plate that said “B WIRED.” It turned out the owner was a retired electrician (called a sparky out here) whose daughters gave him that plate as a Christmas gift many years ago. Fun to see that!

We hit town at 1pm and intended to eat at a local place, but were surprised to see a Subway and both were really happy with that. I know, it’s sad, but it’s comfort food and makes me oh so happy. I haven’t had Subway since exiting the Tararuas 38 days ago. It was quite wonderful with chocolate milk and cookies of course. Today, Griggs hit the 5,000mi mark of his cumulative long distance hiking miles, and that was pretty cool. He’s been racking it up quick having hiked most of the last two years and soon hitting the Continental Divide Trail this spring in the US after this hike. He just keeps going!

We got our groceries done and were checked into the Bella Vista Motel just after 2pm check-in. We proudly nailed the timing and optimized our town time today. The motel is nice, but had problems with the wifi today, and that’s frustrating. Pretty much on par for South Island wifi it seems, but disappointing for a place that advertises free unlimited wifi and then completely drops out 50% of the time. We ended up using our own data much of the time. 

I stayed in the motel and Skyped my nephews just before their bedtime and got caught up on blog and correspondence. 

Bedtime snuggles of my nephews.

Griggs got lots done in town. He bought new shorts (his tore almost in two about two weeks ago), updated his phone’s SIM card, got a haircut, and shaved (I didn’t get a photo yet!). While he was in town he ran into…Felix! We didn’t think we’d catch up to him again and somehow did. Felix has one foot that bothers him on the steep and sidling trails, so he had some shorter days. It looks like we may overlap again the next few days to Queenstown, yay!

No new updates from Becky and Tom to pass along other than that they should be around the Rangitata River and either fording it, or doing that convoluted and time consuming hitch around that we got lucky on. They have moved on from the group they were with to do bigger days. Christophe had an unfortunate incident in the the Harper Valley area when he left his pack in a hut near Arthur’s Pass (Avalanche Creek Shelter) while he took a side trip to summit a mountain. While he was gone, someone stole his whole pack! He is off trail for a month working to replace what was stolen. So terrible! I should have more of an update from Becky and Tom in a few days once in Queenstown. 

It was a good day to get some rest in before this short, but strenuous upcoming leg to Queenstown. It may be a few days without service, so there may be a gap in the posts. 

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