Breast Hill/East Ahuriri (Day 2)

Timaru River

The force of the water pushed against him, if he wasn’t careful, the water would topple him over. As he took another step, the river only became deeper. The water was cold as ice, and stung like knives when it hit a part of the skin that wasn’t already soaked.

He remembered that he had read to bend his knees, like in skiing, to have better balance. Maybe he could also lean more on the pole he held in his hands.

Just by increasing the angle on the knees slightly, probably not even visibly, the force of the water became less of a problem. It was still there, it just didn’t seem to push as much any more. The water, which had a gray tint because of mud it carried, no longer seemed so frightening.

Slowly he moved a leg, then the pole, then a leg again. He repeated the process until he had safely shuffled across the entire river. He was wet up over his knees, but the body was still warm from all the walking.

I might as well start walking to keep warm and dry out. Boots wont dry unless I get a fire going at the hut though, he thought to himself, and started at a quick pace.

Five minutes later he stopped and burst into laughter. The track had passed through gorged part of river, now it crossed back to the other side. Time to get wet again.

This was my second day of walking from lake Hawea to lake Ohau. The trail starts over Breast hill (1578m), follows the Timaru river up to Mt Martha saddle (1700) and then drops down to Ahuriri river. After crossing the river, it follows the east branch of the Ahuriri river through another mountain pass to lake Ohau.

Walking through the Timaru turned out to be a wetter experience than I expected. The trail follows the river upstream and fords it in numerous places. Even though it’s not a very large river, I’m largely inexperienced with river crossings.

Taking it slowly and safe made for a great (and wet) experience, and I can now say that I’m confident in what I can do and not when crossing the rivers here in New Zealand.

The trail not only crosses the river, but also climbs the steep sides of the valley to avoid gorged sections. This made for some cool views over the beach forest as well as lots of sweating. Since it’s not a lot of people going here, the trail conditions added to the toil. I reached the Upper Timaru hut happy but exhausted, with only 13 km done I must have walked about half the speed from the day before.

The hut had no fireplace to dry out the boots at.

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