Up early once again, for that coffee fix.

Not pitch black. Dark charcoal.

Slowly the view south turned two-tone charcoal through the two big picture windows at the other end of the hut.

I was warm in my sleeping bag.

Eventually, the darker diagonal shape could be made out as a ridge on the other side of the Clarence River. Still no colour. Grey monochrome.

Eventually, some ochre emerged, with the river silvery.

An almost indiscernible transition over an hour.

Rain had indeed fallen in the night, but now it had stopped the river wasn’t up at all when I checked it against a stone from yesterday’s memory bank. Even a small stream immediately opposite the hut was about the same as when I arrived. More snow at the lower slopes of the hills had gone, washed away, but I noted the little patch on the hut’s south-facing veranda remained.

So, not the deluge that had been predicted. The radio brought news that Christchurch was flooding, but for some reason I was in a dry pocket on the island.

Still, sleet adhered to the windowpane facing south. It was cold, but not the bitter cold of Alfred Hut. A trip to the ablutions showed it was still drizzly with severe windchill.

Not a day for tramping, if it wasn’t required. Time to settle in for the day once again, and enjoy my second round of coffee.

There’s something enormously peaceful about watching the green/grey river flow on by as it has for millennia.

A medium-sized tree trunk was still wedged in the rockface immediately opposite, about 1500 mm above the current river level. Nothing changed since my visit months before.

I used a bit more wood to take the chill off, and that threw off sufficient heat to cook my porridge.

One thing I’ve learned on this trip is that the large gas canister hardly works when nearing the end of the gas, but heating the bottle gives it a new lease on life.

A forlorn black-backed gull headed upstream into the wind and I wondered what their diet was at this time of year. Slim pickings.

Early afternoon I went for a short walk up to look at Palmer Stream and was surprised that it was not up much. Just like what I’d crossed on Seymour Stream a few days ago that failed to soak my boots.

Blue sky to the south, or a patch anyway of watery blue.

I realised I could have gone today to Palmer Bivvy without too much concern. It had been raining earlier on, to be fair, and the weather forecast on the radio had been for non-eventuating heavy rain.

Two goats made their way along the opposite riverbank, clearly not caring if they lived or died in the miserable conditions.

For a moment I considered setting off back home tomorrow, but then I gazed around this remarkable treeless country, and the churning green/grey river and thought otherwise.

It’s an amazing privilege to be out there. Better make the most of it.

At least I had my boots, windproof trousers, and feathered alpine jacket on, and my torso was quite warm.

I did, however, wonder why I’d left my leather gloves in the car.

My intention was to have a day trip to Palmer Bivvy the following day.

Unless it was pouring down early on.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

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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