A real leisurely start to the day, a very good sleep and no hurry at all to
get out of bed. It was raining and I got stuck into the Kindle rather than getting out of bed. Eventually I had breakfast and we all sat around eating, talking and reading.
Eventually a Japanese fellow heading north bound on the Te Araroa arrived around 11am and had some more recent weather updates. Today was only to be light rain on and off with the big stuff (like really big stuff) to hit tomorrow. I had thought the rain we were having may have been the rain event I’d previously been told of that was coming, just a little early. Anyway I got itchy feet as did the others and we all packed up and headed on. The French were all headed to Kiwi Hut which was about 7km further along and apparently it wasn’t full according to the man as this is where he had come from this morning.
The track down towards Kiwi was the fast becoming the normal type for me, that is grassy plains, boulder fields, multiple river crossings back and forth, some bits of track through the adjacent scrub and some bits where you scramble half in/half out along the water edge to get around a bend or similar. Nearer the Kiwi Hut site the track was easy to follow across grassy flat plains, I didn’t divert to the hut as it was 500m off track.
The DOC track marking differed from the TA mapping files and directed me to cross the Taramakau River near the hut and above the confluence with the Otehake River. I got across the Taramakau in two braids quite easily, but had some difficulty on the Taramakau and took a bit of a swim.
The next 4km was pretty hard rock hopping along the river bed braids and was pretty tedious walking. After this point the track followed a vehicle track along towards the Otira River. The track gives you two directions from here; ford the Otira and get to the highway or take the flood bypass track to the footbridge. I had decided to take the first bit of the flood track and then go up the river bed as per advice I had received a few times. Unfortunately I got to a point where I couldn’t get across or around a river braid, so I reluctantly headed back and up the flood track. Now I have read bad things about this bit and they were 100% correct; the track is overgrown, multiple massive trees down all over the place and pretty hard to follow (worst track so far on the TA due to no maintenance). I abandoned the track once past the section that stopped me at the first opportunity and took a treacherous descent downwards! Once back down on the river flats I was making progress forward once more at a good rate.
So I finally come to the massive footbridge over the Otira, its length shows how much this sucker must flow when in flood. I pondered the situation and come up with a few options: camp here, hitch into Arthurs Pass for few days and come back after the rain or just go for broke to reach one of the two huts up the Deception Valley. I decided on the later and thought it will be a great or my worst decision yet. The notes say to avoid in heavy rain as the Deception side is impassible and no heavy rain had come as of yet, but it’s definitely on its way! I also figured I could bunker down in the tent for a few days if necessary on some patch of ground if I couldn’t get all the way.
So I headed of mindful that it was 4pm and it gets dark around 9:30pm. The first river crossing was fine, so I kept proceeding up the valley in the light rain.
The track was literally in the side of the river at many places and it wouldn’t take much of an increase in the flow to make it impossible to proceed. About 8:30pm and after 6 or so crossings plus multiple side creeks I finally reached the Deception Hut. I was getting tired and cursing myself for not leaving earlier in the day. If I had more time I would’ve kept going the extra bit to the Goat Pass Hut about 1.5km further up. I’ll probably be stuck here until the rain stops and the river drops a bit now. I’m not worried though, as I have food and I’m warm, dry and need a bit of a rest anyway. The hut itself is ok, but a little damp and has next to no dry firewood.