Tuesday, March 14: Rain overnight, clearing to cloudy and reasonably warm, light showers in mid afternoon
Tramping: 21.3 km
James Mackay Hut (Doc, $32)
The two brothers I was sharing with turned out to be excellent snorers but I managed to get some sleep at some point though it wasn’t very much. They did stop every now & then so that helped a little.
A couple of kea tried waking us around dawn and someone’s alarm went off @ 6:00; about then I shut the dormitory door as people were starting to use the kitchen. I snoozed a little while and eventually decided it was time to get up. Breakfast was – new – four pieces of Ryvita, the cheese (100 g), butter for the rye slices, coffee was two spoons of Nescafe, one of sugar, what remained of the cream, and one egg with salt. (By the afternoon the egg carton had disintegrated completely and a number of eggs were cracked & losing their shells. Perhaps next time smaller eggs.) Everything packed up neatly and I was ready to go soon after 8:30.
In less than two hours I was at Gouland Downs Hut, a small hut with a nice view which I attempted to bracket/timelapse, which worked for all of about 10 minutes, and then stopped. Restarting the intervalometer led to a nine-fold bracket without the display switching on again, so I will have to try this again to work out what is going on. Everyone met up here eventually, including a weka and a flock of swallows, one of which chased a fantail away. There was some discussion about the bird sounds coming from the brush; someone claimed that they had seen a kiwi, but I think wekas were more likely to blame.
Next hut along the way was Saxon and while tramping started up a conversation with three Kiwis, mainly with Richard, who is a UV expert & knows a professor of meteorology at LUH, and his companions, Joel & Patrick. Sometime in the ’70s it appears they and a couple of mates got together and did a wild tour around the country; occasionally they team up to relive the good old times, and this was one of those revivals. Richard had not yet done the Heaphy, but his friend at LUH had, and so he had to do it to keep up. It was very full @ Saxon as everyone was having lunch (me with my three muesli bars & dried apricots didn’t take up too much space). In the meantime a helicopter landed and disgorged a film crew who started pointing the camera at the helipad. I was delegated the task of asking them what they were up to – they were shooting a documentary about takahe restoration and were about to film the arrival of their (human) star. They certainly had enough fuel with them for the generator to recharge their batteries.
Left Sally behind @ Saxon at around 1:00, and caught up with everyone in the course of the afternoon. The path is now fairly flat, and appeared to be ground granite. Eventually it clouded over and started raining so that the rain gear had to be carted out and worn for the remainder of the track. Arrived here just after 3:30, which was pretty good for the course.
Things were pretty wet & had to be hung up to dry first, a bunk was sought out (some mattresses barely deserved the name!, more like lilos with holes in them), and the washed sox and trouser bottoms were hung up on a clothes horse near the fireplace, as the inhabitants who had arrived earlier already had a fire going.
Dinner tonight was the instant noodle/rice/oxo/pea combination and there was quite enough. A bit of organisation was required with the cooking times and I managed to get everything cooked at about the same time.
In the meantime everyone else had arrived and the snoring brothers had taken up residence in my room (great). The ratsack was preorganised for breakfast. The clouds lifted and returned, and when they lifted the mouth of the Heaphy – tomorrow’s goal – was occasionally visible.
Again the hut has lighting for some time after it became dark. A group of kids played cards until everyone else went to bed & then they did, too. The snorers in my room were not particularly helpful, but I estimate I got 4 * 2 hours’ sleep, which should be enough.