6. Day Off @ Freshwater

Thursday, February 16: A little overcast to begin with, becoming sunnier with some clouds still about but mainly dry

Freshwater Hut

Freshwater Hut
Freshwater Hut

Had managed about six hours’ sleep at one go – no snorers made a big difference. We were all up by 7:00. I had my breakfast (coffee not yet working well), sent off a spot OK, then set about washing the stuff from yesterday. First the boots were thoroughly watered and then drained, then the hiking trousers and sox were washed. Set the boots up to drain in the sun & the soles were quickly dry, then set up a clothes line to dry everything else. As of writing (2:00) the trouser bottoms were done, shirt, sox, trouser tops and raincoat are all on the washing line under the bridgehead and the boots are on top of the woodshed drying in both the sun and the wind. No more water collecting in the boots, so let’s see how well we can dry them.

Helen & Moira are leaving this evening with the water taxi @ 6:00, so that gives me a chance to order one for Sunday & take up my room in Bunkers later that day, get a shower & perhaps even wash my stuff properly. Søren has asked me to order the water taxi for him as well, but of course two days after I leave. Then he was gone in his mostly still wet stuff.

Looking over Freshwater Jetty to Rakeahua
Looking over Freshwater Jetty to Rakeahua
I swept out my half of the hut, cleaned out the fireplace and deposited the wettened ash onto a pile between the hut and the woodshed. Collected some kindling from nearby the hut.

Just before lunch an Englishman, Carsten, arrived followed by a Finnish woman, Laura. Carsten was doing the North-West Circuit and just ahead of finishing it, he took the opportunity of a large body of fresh water to go & have a dip, which Helen & Moira had been doing previously. I started on my lunch – someone remarked something about “real food” which I didn’t take up with them. Very soon later Carsten & Laura took off down the track, Carsten to stay at North Arm and possibly have to sleep on the floor; Laura to the campsite.

The women tried grass whistles to attract kaka, but none came. They’ve now gone for a nap. Had my sultanas, then am gradually transitioning into dry hiking clothing – shirt first, a little later the trousers, and then perhaps the boots to walk around in a bit. Is very quiet here except for the blowflies and one bee. I spared the bee and a couple of blowies.

View over Freshwater Bridge to Rocky Mountain
View over Freshwater Bridge to Rocky Mountain
The importance of reaching a goal despite the doubt, the persistent doubt, and the doubt that comes when the goal is yet so close but does not seem to be coming any nearer. That’s what this is a celebration of: Southern Promise, whose goal was reached on May 2, 2016: Ambitious, yet finally achieved.

Talking of ambition: My gut feeling was almost certainly right that I should not have attempted the two sections from Oban via North Arm to here. It would appear that Doc is abandoning the section Freshwater-North Arm almost entirely, so that it will probably be all but unwalkable in a couple of years; in preference to having people ride the water taxi between Oban and Freshwater.

With nearly everything dry, I put the boots on (they were beginning to dry from the outside) and absorbed some water into the sox. Went over the bridge for a couple of photos and sat around reading the hut book while Helen & Moira packed everything up (including my rubbish, which was kind of them, even if not intended). Moira has left some oil for cooking; not sure if I don’t prefer my own margarine.

Down the Freshwater River
Down the Freshwater River
A couple of bird watchers travelling back on the same boat arrived, and we chatted for a bit. Then the boat was there and they were on it. Spoke with the skipper about trying to get out on Sunday (me) and Tuesday (Søren), and he could only tell me tomorrow when he came on his rounds.

A father and son pair (Steve/Elliot) arrived with the 18 year-old son dragging his heels a little: Chatted with Steve about all and sundry for a couple of hours, then he decided to organise his stuff for an early waking and departure tomorrow morning (7:15 water taxi). Then all was quiet for the night.