With the weather forecast for the weekend looking grim four of us headed (along with the EM group) from the train station to check in for our ferry ride to Picton.
Once we were on the ferry heading to Picton there was no turning back. The ride over was smoother than expected with the rain kept at bay. With a full van and a selection of drivers, the groups made the decision to drive the four hours and push onto our campsite.
We arrived at the campsite at just after 1 am and we all set up camp for the night. It was a bit of a sleep in the next morning with everyone starting to emerge from their tents and flys around 8am. After sleeping on it, one of the group members decided that they wanted a relaxing weekend and stayed behind with the plan of being dropped off at Marina Springs for the day and night for a bit of R&R.
Due to the weather forecast for the weekend being wet and windy. We made a decision to swap our days around so we would go via rough creek on the Saturday and leave via Palmer road on the Sunday. The weather forecast for the Sunday was looking much worse and we wanted to be low to avoid the worst of the wet, windy weather.
After pottering around and after a bit of breakfast we all set off and Bart, Huw and myself were dropped at just after 9am at the starting point were we put on our weather gear and headed off into the forest. The track via rough creek is supposed to be the shortest however not the easiest.
After a couple of hours of walking uphill and protected from the rain and wind through the forest we hit the end of the tree line. Now unprotected by the forest we now had to be guided by the poles from the low visibility due to low cloud cover. After half an hour we found a small low section we could gather in to have a small morning tea.. which was short lived as the wind picked up and we were starting to feel the cold.. we decided to move on and finally made our way to the top of the ridge.
We then started the trek down to the hut. Due to the wet weather the grass at the top of the mountain was quite slippery so we took our time make our way to the forest. After a couple of hours of walking through the dense forest we found ourselves in front of a swing bridge and just over it was Lake Christabel Hut. At just 2.30pm, with the sun making an appearance we decided to sit outside, soak up the sun and have some lunch.
After a couple of hours out in the sunshine we made our way inside the hut, selected a bunk and set up for the evening. As we had an early start the next morning we had an early dinner of smoked salmon pasta!! Which was delicious.. After dinner we discussed the plan of attack for the next day. We were being picked up at the end of Palmer Flat at 1.30pm and we roughly guessed it would take us around 7 hours to leave. We made the decision to build some fat in there just in case and the wake up time was 4.45am with the intention of leaving the hut at 5.30am!!
The alarm went off the next morning before the crack of dawn and the three of us got up and tiptoed around making breakfast and packing up in the hope of not disturbing anyone. At 5.30am and on cue we left lake Christabel hut.. after 25 mins of walking we made our way to the edge of the Lake Christabel.
We arrived at the meeting points about an hour before scheduled and decided to continue to stay warm we would keep walking along the road until we met up with the van. An hour later on point our van arrived with the freshly cleaned members of the EM group and we made our way to Picton to get the ferry back to Wellington.
Even though the weather was a bit wet and overcast for the weekend it was a great walk and it meant less people on the track!