Start: Mt Rintoul Hut
Finish: Slaty Hut
Today is the day I’ve been both dreading and waiting for at the same time, it’s the day we go over the Rintouls, known to be the most technical and difficult part of the whole trail.
After a slow pack-up we left the hut at 6.30am and immediately started climbing up through the forest.
My body felt like it was still asleep and the extra water I had to carry was making my shoulders ache already.
After 30 minutes of stopping at every orange triangle for a breather I finally caught up to Jacqui who was waiting just above the bushline, now it was time for the scrambling. We looked back at where we came from and could see the toilet in one of the clearings down below us.
We slowly made our way up the steep gravel slope and it was actually alright, it definitely wasn’t the one step forward two steps back scrambling that we were expecting, not yet anyway.
We climbed to a pole at the top of a peak and looked around for the next one. From here it looked like we wandered along the ridge to the peak not far away. Surely that wasn’t the top just over there? So we started wandering along the rocky ridge.
It felt like a whole different planet up there, there were these weird cauliflower looking plants that seemed like aliens and with all the rocks and alpine views it truly felt like we had transported to another world.
And then, without much effort we reached the top marker. That was it, we were at the top of Mt Rintoul!
I felt invincible. Standing at the top of this mountain with incredible views all around me as the sun was rising made me feel like I’d conquered the world.
That was until I looked over at the track that went down and then back up to Little Rintoul, maybe I’d celebrated too early because that looked STEEP!
We started the descent and it was a bit steep but not slippery so we made it down without too much hassle but looking back up, the path to Little Rintoul was getting steeper and steeper the closer we got to it.
We stopped for a rest before starting the climb up and it wasn’t actually too bad. There were a few rock-climbing sections but after Waiau Pass they didn’t phase us.
And yet again, suddenly we were at the top. We’d just conquered 2 mountains and it was only 10am!
I felt so empowered. I’d just completed the most technical part of the whole trail and I don’t know if it’s because I’m fitter but I actually quite enjoyed the track up and down these mountains.
It was almost unbelievable, had we really just done it? All this build up, all this anxiety and we’d just done it? I felt like a warrior!
We had been told that from here it was “cruisey” ridge walking but looking out over the ridge it seemed we had a bit of up and down to go still. So we started the descent down the mountain and into the beautiful forest.
The first part along the ridge was beautiful and even though we were climbing, it was gradual enough and with enough flat bits that I enjoyed it, walking along with a huge smile on my face.
We climbed up and over Old Man, along Ada Flat and then up and over Slaty Peak.
All along the ridge we could look back at the Rintouls and be proud of what we’d achieved today and happy that we had gotten a view as the mist and cloud slowly rolled in.
As we descended Slaty Peak we saw the bright red door of Slaty Hut over on the bushline and raced around, across one more scree slope to the hut.
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and reveling in what we had done today.