Arthur’s Pass – New Zealand – Day 3

Day three we awoke to a frightening but also extremely relaxing sound.  Rain pounding on our cabin.  Hoping that perhaps the cabin was amplifying the sound we opened the door and were greeted with a sheet of water.  Distressed we fell back to breakfast.  After eating we took stock of our supplies and realized we had planned poorly. Only the start of our third day and were were running out of food.  Making a note to eat less we dressed in our best waterproof gear and leaving our gear behind, set off to recon the river.
The river was a magnificent torrent of crystal clear water.  Gone was the riverbed and in its place was a swollen ocean.  Considering the trail from here to the town was fully that riverbed we now considered ourselves in quite a bit of trouble.  We had no map of consequence to find another way out and were running out of food.  And where were we supposed to get water to drink?
I don’t think we are going to make it buddy.  The storm is closing in and we are almost out of food.  Should we use the radio to call for rescue? The cabin was equipped with a radio which we used to call out.  Immediately a Kiwi responded.  Our first question was to ask about the weather.  Perhaps something we should have done three days earlier but better late than never.  The answer was not encouraging.  The area was supposed to have rain for the next few days.  I have always had a positive attitude and it served me well here.  I was positive we were going to die so I went to a corner and started writing goodbye letters.  Nick asked the Kiwi about possibility of rescue.  He asked where we were and our supplies.  When we told him we were only a days hike out he laughed and hung up on us.  So it was up to us alone to get out of this extremely dangerous situation.
By mid-morning the rain had stopped and we started our trek back to where we started from.  Unable to walk the creek bed we followed along the edge and came to a trail.  So far so good.  We had an easy time of it for hours until the trail wanted to cross the river.  We decided to try and ford it.  Taking Nick on my back as I was better at holding my breath we walked into the freezing water.  I made a good effort of it but the rocks were too slippery and the current too fast.  Unable to cross the river and follow the trail we bushwhacked along the edge.  This was slow goings but turned into a downright struggle once we reached a hillside.  Unable to cross the river or go around the hill we really were stuck between a rock and a wet place.
Finding a game trail along the edge of the hill we began side stepping along, gaining in elevation until we were fifty meters or more above that troublesome river.  Never have I been more scared in my life.  With barely enough space for myself, let alone my pack, I slowly shuffled along that edge thinking how terrible the situation was, and then I came to a gap in the path, and decided that everything had been a piece of cake up to that point.  We would have to jump the gap.  Looking down the gap fifty meters to the bottom it was clear that there would be no mulligans.  One after another we jumped and after both surviving were scurried along the rest of the path as quickly as we could.
After clearing the hillside a meadow opened in front of us.  I have no memory of a meadow on our hike in but there it was.  Never have I been so happy.  We had a nice open field with a trail in front of us.  No more rivers and no more cliffs.  A nice relaxing trek this day had turned into and after a few hours we were back in town taking a nice hot and relaxing shower, disappointed in ourselves for thinking we were going to die just hours earlier and hoping never to run across the Kiwi on the other side of the radio.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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