By Kathleen Griffin, 22 July 2023
Would you rather lick a DOC toilet seat every night, or live in Invercargill? -René Descartes, probably
Planning for a mid winter VUWTC Invercargill x VUWTC Queenstown expedition was underway (Sophie & I decided to go on a walk together). We had grand ideas of camping on Mt Campbell, but didn't want to get avalanched so settled for a little excursion into the Takitimu Mountains. Again we talked big game of heading into the Aparima Peaks, but after a nice sleep-in & a flat car battery, we would be lucky to make it to Aparima Forks before sunset.
I met Sophie & her friend Ryan (also from Invers) in the Durobin Valley, & we headed in, catching up about recent travels, work & general life in Te Waipounamu. Turns out Southland isn't the most interesting place to live if you're in your 20's & they are both hoping to move in the near future.
We had a quick bite & a nosey around the Aparima Huts but continued on without too much faff. After the huts is where the track gets truly beautiful. I think the Takituma Mountains are pretty underrated, - mainly because Fiordland is right next door - but if you take them for what they are, then you will be dazzled.
At the forks between Spence Burn & Aparima River we encountered a DOC sign that said the hut was still another 4 hours away 😰 It was already 3:30pm in the midde of winter so we hoped (pleaded with the DOC gods) that it wouldn't take us that long to travel less than 4km. We got our walking groove going & thankfully it was less than an hour & a half when the track led us to the Aparima River crossing right before Aparima Forks Hut.
The hut was small, a bit smelly & not very warm, but we were glad to see it before sunset. There was plenty of firewood in the shed, but unfortunately most of it was covered in snow. We collected what we could find & Ryan sacrificed his warm hands to cut up some of the larger logs. Lighting a fire was definitely a struggle but after donating a significant portion of our toilet paper to the cause, we had some decent logs burning.
Sophie, in her ultralight mindset, had brought a comically small portion of potato flakes for dinner. Ryan had a backcountry meal & I had a seafood laksa. We spent the evening playing Monopoly Deal & asking very specific "Would you rather" questions. Most of them involved one option being something very disgusting or painful or cold, & the other being live in Invercargill for the rest of your life. Usually the first option was chosen. After a heated discussion of f***, marry, kill between Mr Monopoly, the Pringles man & the Cookie Monster, we decided to try & sleep before our delirious discussions got any more unhinged.
The next morning was slighly warmer than the previous night, but as soon as we'd gotten out of our sleeping bags we did decide that we kinda wanted to get going. The cold river crossing right at the start of the walk was definitely unpleasant, & our boots were still wet from the previous day so there was no point in trying to keep them dry. The rest of the walk was pretty chill, we did spent a lot of time jumping on frozen puddles (& puddles that weren't quite frozen). We spent some time discussing travel fails including lot phones, then as we were crossing a sidestream we found an iPhone in the water. (It was still working & I maged to contact the owner to get it returned)
After many more WYR's & frozen puddles, we made it back to the carpark. Both Subi's were still there & Ryan's battery even managed to start the car! We changed out of our gross tramping clothes & into clean socks. We made an agreement to meet up for a tramp again in the future & I waved them off back to the paradise that is Invercargill.