Old Relics on the Old Ghost Road – Part Two

“On a Mish” #276 Old Relics on the Old Ghost Road (Special Guest Post) – Part Two. Lyell Range. 1.5.2021. Back to the Old Ghost Road with my Ma & Pa… After a couple of sharpish climbs we came to a series of stairs which, like so much on this walk, are the result of clever lateral thinking on the part of the track’s creators. Over 300 carefully located steps dropping down into Stern Valley were put there to help solve the problem of creating a way through a particularly steep part of the terrain. From here it was an easy 6 kms to Stern Valley Hut – where the spectacular views of the night before were replaced by a peaceful river frontage. And, best of all, I was introduced to the wonder that is the back country bathing hut!

We never did manage to get the bucket shower to work properly, but even so it’s hard to explain just how good a bucket of warm water feels when you haven’t washed for three days. This night we set ourselves up well enough with candles and a head torch to have a game of cards, which meant we managed to stay up till the late hour of 8pm and this, combined with feeling clean and a better arrangement of clothes for a pillow, meant I finally had a decent sleep. It was definitely needed because day four was the big one – 25kms. I’m an asthmatic and clearly didn’t manage my medication properly on this morning because, by half way up the pretty tough incline of the aptly named Boneyard, I was wheezing to beat the band. In the end, our two chivalrous males insisted they take my pack over the last few kilometres of climbing which, galling as it was, definitely helped. Knackered lungs aside, this is an awesome (in the most literal sense) place – and quite different from most of the rest of the track. It’s also not a place to linger as you are well aware that its landscape has been created mostly by rockfalls, which do still happen!

The Incredible View from Ghost Lake Hut

The sun came out and it was dry enough for us to stretch out in the sun half way through the day and enjoy a longer lunch break. This proved to be a wise decision as the second half, although flat, was challenging for our ageing bones, and the last few kilometres were very silent … and long. The hut at Specimen Point was a sight for sore eyes, not just because it marked the end of a very long day but also because of its stunning elevated location overlooking the Mokihinui River. For quite a long time, Meridian had plans to dam this river and – although I appreciate the renewable nature of hydro electric power – I’m very glad those plans were dropped, as this river is a beauty. Day four’s dinner was a challenge – whatever it said on the packet, the dehydrated food seemed to taste the same as every other night. And no one had the energy to even hold a hand of cards, so it was back to early beddie-byes for us…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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