Dec 12 day 103 Highland Creek Hut to Arrowtown 7:00-5:30 33 km
Today I was a walker and rider in rivers. Got an early start as I knew it would be a long day– how long I did not suspect. The first stretch was physically very difficult, one of the hardest trails I’ve been on since the Richmond Range– a lot of steep up and down with very little regular hiking between. The weather was threatening all day, and I was a little worried about being up on exposed ridges I case things got rough. Fortunately it held off most of the day. When the trail finally got down to the Arrow River, then decided to climb back up a ridge, I decided to just hike down the river itself. The flow was not deep. My feet got a little numb, but not too bad, so my afternoon was crossing from flat to flat or just marching straight down the middle. Just above Macetown (an empty old mining town 2/3rds of the way down), I got on a four wheel drive track that forded the river about as much as it ran on dry land. The road continued after Macetown and I had the choice of following it all the way to Arrowtown (the longer route) or to take a trail over a mountain. The weather was threatening, and I was having fun in the river, so I opted for the road. The further down I went, the deeper the river got. Even though the road continued to ford, there were pedestrian bridges to keep us poor walkers from getting swept away. A few kilometers from town, a couple came down the road in a 4WD Toyota pickup with huge tires and the engine’s air intake mounted at cab roof height. I was treated with some driving in the river- sometimes right down the middle of it for a while (the driver really knew what he was doing). Thank heavens for the high air intake, because even though it sat up high, the water came over the truck’s hood several times. After a safe delivery to dry land in Arrowtown, I got a room at the New Orleans Hotel, wandered the Main Street a bit–great old mining town where they have repurposed all the old buildings, so it has an unusual old feel. Had good meal in hotel restaurant and went to bed early– am really feeling the last two day’s hike.