Monday, March 13: Heavy rain overnight, changeable during the day, some more rain in the evening
Tramping: 16.1 km
Perry Saddle Hut (Doc, $32)
Woke up around 5:30 and discovered that I hadn’t turned on the alarm, so I did so and it did go off on time, although it was not entirely necessary. Breakfast was a couple of wheatbix, a bit of allbran, some yoghurt and what was left of some milk with one of the packaged coffees.
Threw everything else into the suitcase and dragged it into the hall. All the food fit on top of the backpack and a plastic bag full of clothes was used to pad the pack. Put some muesli bars into the top compartment for a second lunch and was ready to go just after 7:00.
KB was open, and their rolls were around $5, a bottle of coke was $4. Got a ham and mustard roll, but by the time I had eaten it there wasn’t much of the mustard to be tasted. Down at the i-site an Intercity bus was loading, and a couple of trampers were collecting for the Heaphy bus which was still some time in coming. Eventually it turned up, packed the Brown Hut packs in first and explained that we would be swapping vehicles and drivers in Mapua, our first destination.
It was about then that I lost my glasses – or if I haven’t lost them I haven’t packed them in (see also later) – can remember setting up the ipod to listen to some podcasts and putting the glasses into my trouser pocket, and after that they were gone. In any case we swapped buses, and the trailer was emptied of the stuff going to Marahau (for the Abel Tasman Coastal Track), we paid, and the journey continued. I struck up a conversation with Sally from Bristol who is also an English teacher, and I managed to steer the topics towards tramping, rather than shop. There was a toilet stop before we left the main road (Takaka or Puramahoi) and I finished off the coke, and then it was the along the gravel road to the start of the track. One brief stop for some construction where I spotted a karearea (New Zealand falcon) in a field, and then we were there. I elected to have lunch of my now soggy roll while the spot sent an OK and the GPS got its satellite fix. Everyone else had left before me – I checked out the view of the Aorere River – and when I was back all the machines were working so I could also get underway just after 11:30.
Managed to catch up with everyone, spoke for a while with two young Austrians, Manuel & Karina, then caught up with Sally who had started first, and walked with her until we reached a bench where she wanted to repack her stuff. I pushed on for about an hour before my second lunch of muesli bars and confirmed that the glasses were not where they should be. Heard a tree beginning to fall over & it did. Had a look at the map as well and thought that I couldn’t have much to go to the shelter and from there to the hut.
On reaching Aorere Shelter was surprised by some strange whistling (possibly kea or weka) and thought it originated from the Australian couple I met when I got there. I started on some apricots as they left, but overtook them shortly after that and was soon @ Flanagan’s Corner, the highest part of the track where the hut could be seen from. Dead reckoning seemed to be working again and I was at the hut at 4:10.
Birds seen along the way were the usual tomtit/fantail/New Zealand robin, a weka, and some very small (hen’s egg size) birds with white breasts and green wings that could have been rock wrens (the call was what had been described @ Lake Roe Hut where the Doc people were banding them).
Quite a large, modern hut here with huge windows, lovely panoramic views, and three separate dorms, although I suspect the snorers are already well distributed. I took a bunk in Kaka Saddle room and proceeded to unpack my stuff. In the course of the day I realised that I had forgotten the towels, but as it turns out the spiderman suit as well. This will result in a major inquiry. As well as some improvisation for sleeping. I think I can get by with the singlet and jumper, and sleep in undies & put the trousers on if I need to go to the loo.
Put on some deet, washed the sox and hung them up to dry by the already roaring fire. For dinner I tried the macaroni & cheese but it was very liquid, so it was one course of soup with the last of the Dusky crackers, then the noodles themselves.
Managed to use some other bloke’s hot water to wash my dishes, and writing the diary without glasses is quite a task. Not to mention trying to decode it.