Sunday, March 19: Cloudy with some drizzle to begin with, becoming finer with a little sun shining through
Tramping: 18.6 km
Stone Hut (Doc)
The only noise in the night was the wood burning out, towards dawn some birds appeared (weka? kea?), and I slept through until about 8:00. Time for ryvita and salami but noticed too late that the salami had garlic in it and wasn’t particularly sliceable. In any case breakfast was soon dealt with and everything packed away for an early start.
Swept out the hut just prior to leaving, and the track was moderate. At about the point where the track to Helicopter Flat Hut left I met a couple from Sydney who were doing the Leslie-Karamea (to be followed then by the Heaphy from west to east, and the Abel Tasman). No one else on the track.
There was a turnoff to Saxon Falls where I had a first hydration stop after two hours. Trevor Carter Hut could be made out in the distance. The lunchtime hut (Helicopter Flat) was just over an hour away and I was counting steps to shorten the time when I slipped at a creek crossing and hurt my right hand and hip. Nothing broken, and I was soon at the hut for the lunch break for three muesli bars, water refilled from the stream, and a cold bath for the right hand.
After lunch I continued along the track which was in the process of becoming somewhat wilder. Immediately at the hut there was a three-wire bridge which it wasn’t necessary to use, and at an option point I took the low road as the river levels seemed reasonable and successfully completed two river crossings on my own. The other path rejoined soon after, and I was beginning to wonder about whether I had missed a turnoff, so at the next hydration stop I took out the map (last crossing of the Karamea River) and everything was OK. Just on 1 km to the crossing of Chime Creek, and another to Wangapeka Saddle.
From here on the track was steeper and somewhat worse for wear (washing out) but soon reached the Murchison 1929 slip with its extensive distribution of rocks. Very soon after that the hut turned up, where a couple from Aschaffenburg, Marcel and Jasmin, were on their way to Kings.
The hut here has two large plastic water containers (20 L), one of which was filled up and positioned for hand-washing. Then some firewood was collected, some was chopped up for tonight, and the ash was disposed of. At around this point I discovered that I had lost my glasses (second time in a week!) and looked around in the three last places they could have been lost at, but to no avail. They shouldn’t have been taken outside for wood collecting or chopping to begin with. A generous portion of trail mix was eaten for afternoon tea, and aspirin was necessary for the hand and hip.
Dinner was cooked and eaten, teeth brushed, deet applied (although there are relatively few sandflies about, they can get in – and out again – easily enough through cracks in the structure). Sox & undies were hung up to dry by the fire together with the wet boots that are slowly but surely disintegrating. A pan of water for washing up was almost too hot to handle.
Perhaps a short day tomorrow.