Showers of freezing rain scudded through in the pre-dawn morning, although stars were still visible. Lights near Takaka and Awaroa.

The near full moon setting.

Even at 7 am it was still dark as I sat munching my breakfast. Now completely calm and quiet.

Wekas call way down the hill, and those two wekas living under the hut respond. Now not so quiet. Then the jet aircraft taking off racket from my burner as I heat the second round of water.

Sometimes the breeze can be heard via the woodburner flue, but otherwise, tranquillity.

Time to saddle up. By the time I ripped I’m ready to leave it is reasonably clear, but with gusts and clouds coming through at pace. The trees give good when protection much of the time as I deal with the long slow climb, the hill is sheltering me from the cool southerly. I hear that it is snowing down south, and says it’s 5° C up here on the ridge. I believe it.

It’s a long day following a ridge, Evans Ridge, that undulates its way to over 1000 m, but there’s plenty of ups and downs to add to the climbing.

As far as most tracks go, this is in pretty reasonable nick. Hasn’t been too long since DOC has done some minor track maintenance, and that all helps as far as the Wainui Hut turnoff.

The back pain from the twist when I fell on Saturday is still apparent, but it slowly dissipates during the day.

It’s pretty forest, quite diverse, with plenty of Dracophyllum above about 800 m. Much diversity of vegetation with two types of beech, red and silver, miro, kamahi, celery pine, and in some high places around Moa Park Hut, mountain cedar.

With the short days, I left at 8 30 am and arrived at Castle Rock Hut around 5 30 am after a big six hours of walking.

No time to visit Porters Rocks, but the views would have been negligible.

Yeah, I failed to bring a spare set of batteries for my headlamp, and walking in the dark isn’t recommended without light.

Another big day tomorrow, walking out.

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