Cold? You betcha!

Frost on the inside of the louvres. Plenty of sparkles on my frozen boots.

I warmed up my near-empty gas canister in my sleeping bag to gain some initial pressure. Actually, my sleeping bag encompassed a few things. My batteries in my technology bag, and my camera were other lumpy companions.

Best just to lie in one position to retain the warm spot on the mattress. That coffee was great.

However I wanted to leave early to give me enough time to get to Palmer Hut, so I was up just after the 6 am news.

Dispatched the dead mouse in my trap. I might have exterminated more had I cared to get up on the night, but that seemed a poor option at the time.

For some reason my socks were not frozen, the breeze that the chimney might have helped there, but not so with my solid boots. I barely managed to get them on, but the laces were also frozen and impossible to do up tightly, so I gave them all a bath in the creek to make them more flexible.

I left at 9 am with plenty of clothing on. A long-sleeved wool T-shirt, my long-sleeved polyester shirt, a wool hoody, a fleece vest, and my softshell jacket. Plus a winter beanie.

However, it didn’t take long to start removing clothes, starting with the hoody and beanie.

Less snow, although crusty early on, but more water in Alfred Stream.

With totally soaked boots from yesterday, little point was gained by avoiding water and I crashed on down, aided by my footprints in the snow from yesterday.

The two slightly sketchy bits, both very short, didn’t seem too bad now I knew where to go. After the second one it wasn’t long before I hit the gravel, after stopping for a quick early lunch at yesterday’s spot.

Gore Stream was up as well, although still only calf deep.

It never seems as long returning, and in fact, it wasn’t even 3½ hours walking down to opposite Willows Hut. That cut half an hour from yesterday’s efforts.

No point in revisiting, so I started up to the pass around 2 pm. The track was still snowbound, with the snow still a little crunchy. Plenty of snow on the surrounding hills.

The other side of the pass was more clear from snow, so it was just the slow trudge to the hut.

Major surprise that the previous occupants, hunters for four days, had left plenty of dry firewood when they were choppered out. I discovered only nine parties had stayed since I last visited around four months before.

It wasn’t long before the temperature inside the hut was raised in a major way.

For once I didn’t think either my boots or socks would freeze overnight.

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A guide to the night’s accommodation: Palmer Hut

A great location for views. | Palmer Hut, Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia/Clarence Conservation Park
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