Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Day 5: Kerin Forks Hut to Top Forks Hut

From "New Zealand Adventures, Part II: South-Island Hiking Trip"

Wilkin River Valley

The following morning, we got a bit of a late start, to give the morning rain a chance to clear up. This was another day of primarily forest hiking, among the beautiful beeches, along with some incredible riverside meadows filled with summer flowers and views of snow and glacier-capped peaks, and a huge variety of cascading waterfalls.

Though we hadn't been anticipating any particular highlights to what we knew might be a long day, we were surprised that this day ended up being one of our overall favorites.

The beautiful silver beech "Tawhai", native to New Zealand.
Waterfalls were everywhere.  Both of us saw more waterfalls on this single week-long backcountry traverse than we had in our entire lives, combined.  Some were particularly tall and graceful, as seen in this video of a waterfall along Wilkin River, a mile or two before we reached Top Forks Hut:

This was our last long full-day carrying backpacks, as the following day would be a day-hike.  Coincidentally, it seemed to be a transition point where our muscles were beginning to accept their new fate of daily workouts, and our feet were getting used to the rougher trails (though they were still protesting their semi-wet state with ample blister-pain). We were starting to get used to the uneven footing on the trails caused by inter-crossed tree roots, by open grass fields hiding unexpectedly-gaping foot-wide streams, and by large tussocks of thick grass root balls that could easily cause an ankle sprain.

Top Forks Hut

That evening (after navigating through often unmarked trails, in our attempt to avoid more river crossings and further wet feet by staying along the south shore of Wilkin River), we reached Top Forks Hut, just in time for beautiful sunset views of the glaciated Mt Pollux facing across the valley.

Not a bad view for our night-time accommodations!
This hut – like Kerin Forks Hut – was also on the older and smaller side, and already filled with a dozen other hikers, so we happily pitched our tent again, and enjoyed the beautiful mountain views while we cooked our dinner (fortunately, the late evening hour was too cold for the sandflies!).

At the end of each day – despite the often slow progress, and how weary and footsore we always were – we never went hungry.  In fact, we now know we don’t need quite as many Mountain House meals each day (at least not such a large meal first thing in the morning, no matter how lightweight and high-quality of a meal it is), but we'll remember that we could definitely do with a bit more chocolate to go with warm tea in the evenings!

Here are links to the other days:

1 comment:

Helen Kline said...

Love the purple flowers and waterfalls!