February 20th and 21st
It’s one thing to push through inclement weather during a thru-hike, it’s another thing to knowingly walk through something as severe as a cyclone. It was an easy decision to head for a town and then just stay put. The storm lasted 2 full days, so another 2 weather zeros were in order. It worked out really well for me. This is the most inexpensive backpacker that I have stayed at and also quite nice.
I didn’t take any pictures of the town the whole time, as the conditions outside were absolute crap. It rained hard for about 48 hrs and temps were in the 40’s. I watched a few movies, caught up on the blog, ate too much food, talked story with about 30 other TA walkers, and generally relaxed.
Killer the cat
After the storm, reports came in that the road to the next trailhead was washed out. They said anywhere from a week to a month before it is cleared. There was a video posted of a shale stream running down a streambed, across the road we must take. It was literally a flood of rocks and huge boulders, moving at pulverizing speed. As impressive as it was to watch, it’s also quite chilling. These are the crazy conditions we are dealing with.
On the second day, a group of us gathered at the i-site to discuss options. The travel company said we could take the school bus shuttle as far as where the road is blocked at Hutt Stream for $10. They normally take TA walkers all the way to the trailhead for $20, then the school bus picks up the farm kids on the way back. I’m not sure where this extra revenue goes but I hope some of it benefits the school. I think it’s a private company that runs the bus, and the school just contracts them.
In this case, we would have to walk an extra 20 kms or so just to get to the trailhead. Other walkers are just skipping this whole section…easy to do once you’ve already skipped or hitched other large sections. But I have been trying hard to do this whole trail and I was at least going to give it a try, as were quite a few others. But if we found the washouts impassable, we would have to either walk or hitch back to town, loosing another day. We were warned not to try it but we are a bunch of stubborn, crazy people who just want to walk the trail. We were to meet the shuttle at 7 am the next morning.
So that was the plan and I went back to the backpacker to eat and relax some more. Stay tuned, the next section may get pretty intersting.