We hiked out of Mount Arthur and drove to Nelson lakes, arriving around 5:00. We threw our stuff back onto our backs and booked it into Speargrass hut, arriving a little after 7:00, with frayed nerves (well, Molly’s were frayed, Jeremiah was unperturbed and Milo recovered quickly). Milo had been unhappy during the last 30 minutes of our hike out of Mt Arthur, and after another couple hours of driving and hiking, he had reached his breaking point. An animal-centric telling of Noah’s ark kept him amused for an additional 30 minutes (he supplied the animal noises), but he reached a point where even M&M’s wouldn’t make him happy, and he wailed in my ear for the remainder of the hike. I was feeling particular parental guilt, since we should have known he was finished for the day, but had pressed on anyway. Fortunately he bounced back as soon as we entered the hut and he got back onto his own two feet. I gave him the bag of GORP as a reward, and he picked out all the M&M’s, which of course meant he didn’t eat dinner and was bouncing off the walls until 10:30 pm, then awoke hungry in the early morning and refused to eat anything but peanutbutter, consuming about 1/3 of the jar.
Look at this lousy stream. It’s absolutely beautiful, but it gets my frown because it is unbridged, and the stupid track crisscrosses it multiple times. That means wet feet.
A few of the most popular huts need to be booked in advance, so a week before Jeremiah had booked (and paid for) a night at Angelus Hut, located with stunning views at the top of Mt Roberts. We left Speargrass hut in the rain for our 4 hour assent to Angelus, not sure how far we’d get before the weather turned us back. If it was just Jeremiah and I, we’d have pulled down our hoods, tightened our straps, and pushed on. But our family now includes Milo, and hikers coming down said the windchill on the exposed ridge was well below freezing and sleeting, not the kind of weather where we could afford to stop and give him a break. The next day was predicted to be even worse. So we turned back.
You can’t see it in this picture, but there’s a bluff just up to the right. There’s no good reason why the track is down crisscrossing the darn creek bed. The stream doesn’t look that big, but it’s just wide enough and deep enough to prevent rock hopping, at least in this weather. We speculated about the first silly Kiwi who bush-whacked this route many years ago, and the rest of the silly Kiwis who just followed unthinkingly in his tracks rather than making a proper dry trail….but it’s not our country, after all. Kiwis don’t seem to mind wet feet.
Squelch, squish, squash. That’s us hiking after unbridged stream crossings. And these are our pruned feet pulled from our soggy boots. Actually, it’s not as bad as it sounds, even though it feels like sacrilege to break the North American Dry Feet hiking creed. Eventually the water in the boots warms up, and eventually you’ll reach a hut that probably has a wood stove, so even if your boots don’t dry overnight, your feet will.
But here’s the relevant point. Milo’s smiling. So we didn’t get to go where we wanted to go, but he’s still dry and warm, wearing his pajamas under his clothes, and he’s actually happy. We drove into town and found a dingy but dry hostel for the night.