Nick and I woke ready for another day of hiking in the beautiful New Zealand mountains. After a large breakfast by the campfire we dressed in our dry clothes, packed up, and began trekking along the riverbed once more. An hour into our walk the trail crossed the large riverbed by a sort of individual cable car which was unexpected and cool. Strung quite a distance above the riverbed it had space for one person and a pack. It was operated by a hand crank. I was first to cross and was a little nervous about trusting such a contraption so high up and in the middle of a forest. When I weighed my options between fording the steam and the cable car I decided to stay dry. It was a poor decision as it started raining as soon as I climbed in. So I put on my parka and started cranking. Being much further than it looked I reached the other side with a sore and tired arm. With my other arm I cranked the carriage back to Nick so he could make the crossing. Safely together we took a little rest and then cracked on.
The weather had changed drastically in the time it had taken us to fly over the riverbed. We were now looking and low level clouds and a mild rain. Being such expert outdoors men we completely ignored the weather and proceeded straight into a ravine. Looking back we probably should have been washed away and drowned judging by the steepness, lack of vegetation, and rock bed of that ravine. It was just asking for a flash flood, but we carried on without a care in the world, even stopping to take pictures of the water starting to come over the side of the cliffs making pretty waterfalls. Then we lost the trail.
How we lost the trail will never cease to amaze me. It had been marked extremely well right up to the point that it stopped. Whatever the cause(most likely Kiwi Gremlins), we could not find where to go. I know, get to high ground and look around. This crossed our mind for some reason. Perhaps we had seen too many movies where the high ground is always the best ground. So we brilliantly decided to climb up a steep rocky cliff face. Though nobody was killed we did take turns starting rock slides onto each other. After quite some time and sore from climbing up a steep cliff with loose rocks for traction we hit the summit and saw….
Wilderness. I cannot say we were surprised and am not sure what we were hoping to see. Maybe a sign saying “Trail this way”. Now is a good time to mention that we had brought a map and compass, but as we discovered at this junction we were off the map. It had only covered the beginning of our hike. So we were utterly lost. There was nothing for it but to retrace our steps back our previous camp. Here I learned that going down a rocky cliff face is a lot more difficult than going up one. At one point I had to take off my pack to climb down and there was no choice but to throw my pack down in front of me. As can be easily guessed it did not drop nicer but rolled down the slope. I must give credit to the construction of that pack as it only had slight tears after its journey bouncing and sliding down that rocky face.
After our harrowing journey down we had an easy hike back to the campsite. As we crossed the cable car for the second time that day we noticed that the river was about five times bigger now and flowing fast. Neurons in both our brains started clicking and the thought that we might be in trouble now crossed our minds. We had not exactly prepared or packed well for this hike and bad weather was not going to make it any easier.
We arrived at the campsite just as the light was starting to fade. Being soaked to the bone and exhausted from our climbing expedition we decided to stay in the cabin. These are cabins built by the park service for hikers and can be used for a fee. It is on the honor system and we put in extra cash due to our happiness of being warm and dry. These cabins have beds, tables, a fireplace/stove, and a nice welcoming feel. It made for a wonderful night. We ate a huge meal, dried everything we had, and slept soundly and long that night. A good thing as we would need strength and concentration for the next day.