“Sidling”. What’s sidling I hear you say? Sounds rather pleasant…
“He sidled up to me and asked for a tenner”, a ‘cheeky wander’ perhaps…?
Nope! It’s effing hard work that’s what! :) When you see ‘sidle’, in future, read ‘Indiana Jones shimmying along a precipice with his back to the wall’. It’s not that relaxing let’s say, technical underfoot, and it’s heck of a slow progress! :) Basically it’s a thin path cut into the slope of a steep valley. And not necessarily a flat path either. ‘Undulating sidling’ now that’s my personal favourite. There was a ‘junior intro’ to sidling this morning ( a minor annoyance ). We were in for the ‘pro course’ later in the section!
Up up up we went. Cream crackered we were. We were heading for Browning Hut but once we caught sight of Roebuck the thought of noodles for tea and a snooze seemed too compelling to continue. Way too hot today!
Hordes of Wasps! So many wasps. The hills are full of them. The ground is heaving with them. Why?! These small old-school huts are metal clad and collect the heat of the day a bit too efficiently. Stifling heat inside, we weigh up leaving the doors open to cool it ( and fill it with sandflies and wasps ) or leave the heat boxed up for when we loose the sun. Hmm…
Sitting outside we debate the evilness of wasps vs sandflies. “At least wasps aren’t literally trying to eat you”. “True, true”. Wasps have been officially downgraded from the worst thing to be trapped in the long drop with, to second place. In fact, I hear later that they eat sandflies? Maybe wasps are our friends after all.
Hot Wasp Tip! From our new hiker friend Andrew:
Never touch the black furry trees. The wasps’ll be following you! There are tiny hairs sticking out of the black fuzz on the bark. They’re termite bums and they’re dripping with a honey-like substance ( not for eating tho! ). Wasps love it.
Black trees = no touchie.
We woke up to low cloud which coated all the roots and rocks with a slippery shine, the sun soon burnt through it, but turned the valley into a super hot & humid sauna. We climbed out of Roebuck and started some more sidling, this time on the other side of the valley for some variation. The path was quite steep and narrow in places, but we were thankful of all the fallen trees cleared and lining our path on the way up to Totara Saddle.
It must be something they get taught at school in the north of England I imagine, but if there’s always one thing you’re guaranteed to find up a mountain, it’s a Yorkshireman.
And on bursting through the door at Hackett hut, ‘Ey up!’ we found just that. Introducing our fellow hiker for this section Andrew!
Our man from Leeds was an accomplished traveller and hiker. A story of adventure from every country on planet Earth. Bussing from India through communist Russia and back to Blighty. Hiking in the Columbian mountains when it was well dodgy. A very agreeable fellow with which to share bunks with indeed. And many a sunset tale was absorbed and gasped upon as we sipped our noodle soups.
The Pelorus River Track is now far behind us, today we start The Richmond Alpine route, dubbed “the most demanding section of the Te Araroa Trail”, it’s to be a big test of Nicky’s fitness and newfound mountaineering skills!
It almost seemed ridiculous how many times the path kept darting from one side of the stream to the next as we left Hackett Hut? I’m sure the trail builders were taking the piss! Luckily the water level was really low and easy stepping-stones were found for all the crossings.