18. Loch Maree – Kintail (Dusky Track 6/8)

Tuesday, February 28: Cold again in the early morning but otherwise a fine and sunny day

Tramping: 11.5 km

Kintail Hut (Doc)

Kea were playing on the roof for their breakfast @ 6:00, but otherwise the night was surprisingly peaceful considering the age distribution. Only one person snored, and then not too loudly.

I let the others get onto the track before me, and then was able to pack up everything, send off a spot OK, get a sat fix, sweep out the hut and get on my own way. Pretty muddy today, and a lot of ups and downs all over the place. I could see that one “gut” had been completely avoided by a new track, but still, even if the mud was fairly firm in places, in others it was soft and unavoidable. Read more…

17. Supper Cove – Loch Maree (Dusky Track 5/8)

Monday, February 27: Cold to begin with, very sunny, a couple of high clouds collecting in the evening

Tramping: 14.1 km

Loch Maree Hut (Doc)

Rather cool this morning, as I had left the door open in the middle of the night. For breakfast I started on the second packet of biscuits which I preferred over the rather bland sesame ones. Had to start rationing the muesli bars for lunch and was considering when I might have two eggs for breakfast. The sun rose in one far corner of the Dusky Sound, quite unphotographable, but anyhow.

Some of the gear was still wet, but at least clean and as I was tightening up my boots, one of the base eyelets snapped – I thought at first it was the shoelace, if it had been, then at least it would have been repairable. Relaced the boot to cover the gap, but noticed that the other eyelets are not looking healthy either. So much for Jack Wolfskin. Then off I set. Read more…

16. Loch Maree – Supper Cove (Dusky Track 4/8)

Sunday, February 26: Sunny throughout

Tramping 15.0 km

Supper Cove Hut (Doc)

Keas were heard playing on the roof & calling at night and in the dawn. There was also a bit of snoring during the night, and I don’t know how much sleep I got. In any case everyone was up and about around 7:30, which also had to mean me. My stuff was not particularly dry, and I had had no time to wash anything yesterday, so after my breakfast, and being reassured that everyone was going to make it, I pushed off on my own at 9:30. Read more…

15. Lake Roe – Loch Maree (Dusky Track 3/8)

Saturday, February 25: Rain overnight & in the morning, easing to drizzle by midday and becoming fine but cloudy in the evening

Tramping: 8.8 km

Loch Maree Hut (Doc)

In the absence of anyone else to disturb me I slept through until 8:30, packed my stuff together and waited to see how the day would progress. As it was a bit cold I decided that a fire would be in order, so I lit the pile of rubbish that had collected in the potbelly stove, emptied the ash drawer and in a short while the stove was fairly clear so I put a pan of water on it to have some warm water for washing if I was able to convince myself to stay.

Around midday an unexpected group turned up – two couples and one other guy, who were soaked to the skin and needed the rest of the day to dry off. I had collected some firewood (mainly kindling) and had put some wet firewood by the fire for drying. Had lunch of three muesli bars & half of the rest of the sultanas. The rain seemed to stop so I took this as a message to get on the track. One of the guys had found Jack’s Raybans so he gave them on to me & I moved off at 1:00. Read more…

14. Halfway – Lake Roe (Dusky Track 2/8)

Friday, February 24: Sunny the whole day

Tramping: 7.8 km

Lake Roe Hut (Doc)

We were up around 7:00. There had only been one snorer, Nico, and his snoring wasn’t particularly bad. I had gotten up once, and tried putting on the anaesthetic because I had been bitten to bits changing sox yesterday, and that set off one cramp in the calf and another in the thigh. However, with the ointment applied, the bites were much less itchy.

The Dutch couple were surprisingly quick off the mark, as was Murray, who may have been first. Then Jack and Nico were off with a promise to wait for me at the next hut. Read more…

13. Hauroko Burn – Halfway Hut (Dusky Track 1/8)

Thursday, February 23: Sunny throughout with some morning fog and high clouds in the afternoon

Tramping: 11.9 km

Halfway Hut (Doc)

The compass-alarm went off on the dot of 6:00 and I was up to finish the orange juice and two eggs which were a little too hard boiled, but the shells separated nicely. Everything fitted into the backpack, except for the (large) gas can and the burner which were packed into the sport shoe bag and strapped on the outside of the pack, and the tripod and ratsack are being carried in a separate bag sashed to me.

The computer & pjs were put into the satellite pack and deposited in locker #19.

With everything ready to go and the room key delivered back to the key drop I was waiting at the front of the motorcamp at 7:15 and could spend a spot OK while doing so. Shuttle turned up a little after half past, and in addition to Jack & Nico, two Dutch hikers were coming along as well, Sjos & Bo. We also had to pick up another person in Manapouri, Murray, a Kiwi from Taranaki. Now we were set to go to Clifden. Here we were joined by a young Canadian couple, Quinn & Matt, who had just completed the Te Araroa and were looking for another challenge. Read more…

8. Mason Bay – Freshwater

Saturday, February 18: Sunny & hot

Tramping: 14.0 km

Freshwater Hut (Doc)

Managed to sleep in until about 9:00 (the others only had to get up to catch their flight back), so the morning was rather relaxed packing. I was ready to go soon after 10:00 and planned on making a number of hydration breaks along the way.

Stopped first of all at the homestead for a sip, then charged along the somewhat muddy section, which, however, was rapidly drying out, so that most of the mud required no major detours or planning. Ran into a German, Frank, who was doing Freshwater-Mason Bay and back again in a day, followed by an American couple who were staying at Mason Bay tonight and wanting to be back tomorrow morning for the water taxi at 9:00. Finally, a Dutch woman who was doing a more leisurely pace but had everything with her including a bed roll. After that just empty track. Read more…

7. Freshwater – Mason Bay – along the beach & back

Friday, February 17: Clouds overnight clearing in the morning to fine & sunny (hot) in the course of the afternoon

Tramping: 22.6 km

Mason Bay Hut (Doc)

Track to Mason Bay
Track to Mason Bay

Steve & Elliot were up and about by around 6:30 but not making much progress. I soon joined them to have my breakfast and was over to the boatsman before they were, to find out how the future connections would work. My trip out was no problem for 9:00 on Sunday, but I had to vouch for Søren for Tuesday, and he will have to pay a premium if there is no one else going in or coming out on that day.

Sleep was a little more fragmented during the night, but at least dreams started reappearing, and falling asleep seems to be more rapid without the ‘nap jerk’. I had packed all of my stuff together and was ready to go soon after 8:15. Will have to reduce the vanity bag and the battery bag for the Dusky. Read more…

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. Read more…

5. Oban – North Arm – Freshwater River

Wednesday, February 15: Sunny with variable cloud, light rain showers towards evening

Tramping: 22.9 km

Freshwater Hut (Doc)

Rippled clouds at dawn, Oban
Rippled clouds at dawn, Oban

Today was the day to try to redeem the tramp on Stewart Island. I had slept four hours in one go for the first time on this trip, and was up soon after 7:00. With the first of the hiking breakfasts out of the way – the egg was well cooked, yolk was not dried out, but one or two pieces of shell were a bit tenacious – I pushed what I could into the pack, and everything else went into the small sports bag. Unfortunately my key didn’t open the room labelled “Storage” so I put a note on the bag and left it on the bed. Then it was off to the track. Read more…