Kay had heard wonderful things about this trek, not a Great Walk, but still a very nice tramp on the south island, so after a couple days recovering from Abel Tasman, we headed out to Angelus Hut.
I’m not sure what it was… maybe 2 months of tramping through Patagonia and NZ, but I was SO tired out ascending to this campsite. At 1,650m, it’s not exactly that high up… we hike higher routes in Switzerland even, but I was pretty winded going up. By the time we made it to the pristine lakes, I was out of breath and tuckered out.
It was about all I could do to help Kay pick out a place to set the camp up on the very hole-filled ground and then lay down and nap for an hour. I actually felt very sick at some point and needed to lay down or I probably would have gotten worse.It was also pretty hard to find a place to set the tent. Out of all the places we camped in NZ, this was the most uneven campsite and if it were not for our astounding Exped campinng mats, we would have felt rocks and holes in the ground all night long. As it were, the mats made all the difference in the world and we actually were not kept awake from this form of discomfort… (More on that later.)I have to say that I was slightly disappointed by the route. I found the whole trek up to be pretty bland compared to the sights along the Abel Tasman trek. All around me was just grey brown “blah”. But that wasn’t what would make me regret doing this hike at all.As the sun dipped below the hills and made its way into dusk, the temperature took a SHARP drop. “Fine”, we thought. We bundled up with our down jackets and hats like we had in Patagonia, which arguably should have been the colder of places, and we stayed up for awhile more to try and take some star photos and long exposures, which was a little tricky with a blazing full moon, but we tried!It was Kay’s idea to light up the inside of our Exped tent for a long exposure, which turned out very cool in my opinion. 🙂After finishing up these photos, we climbed into our sleeping bags with our silk sacks, as it seemed like it would be a chilly night, read our Kindles for a bit, and then went to sleep. Or at least we tried to.
While I didn’t start out terribly cold, I could not for the life of me get warm in my sleeping bag. Normally, before we go to bed, we strip down to our undies so that in the morning we can put on some warm clothes when we get up for breakfast.
Already anticipating a cold night, I actually had my thermal tights on already and a tank top… but this wasn’t enough. I was still freezing even with my silk sack and sleeping bag. After an hour or so trying to fall asleep, I ended up rummaging for my pullover in the dark. No help!
Thirty minutes later, I thought, “To hell with it, I need warmth!” and I let all precedent out the window and put on my down jacket and my hat, which would leave me nothing more to put on in the morning. Only then could I finally fall asleep, although I was still so cold I woke up off and on all night. It ended up being the coldest camping night of the whole year.Funnily enough, in the morning when the sun came out, we didn’t even have problems with the cold. It was just at night! After breakfast we made our way down the Speargrass creek route, which left me cursing quite a bit. I underestimated where to step across a few stones and for the first time ended up stuck in a river knee high with water flooding into my boot.
Thankfully it was just one boot and I whipped it off quickly and wrung out the water and then used a couple quick dry towels I had on me to blot out the water in the inside of the boot. It helped so that when I put a fresh sock on, the boot almost didn’t feel wet and I didn’t receive any surprise blisters from the rest of the hike.I was pretty “over” hiking after this trek though. Something about the overexertion, the lackluster views, and the beyond freezing night didn’t do it for me. While for others Angelus Hut is one of their favorite NZ treks, it won’t be one I will be recommending to friends.