Perhaps a certain complacency has set in, I didn’t leave Top Wairoa Hut until after 10 am, then spent hours just sitting on the ridge contemplating, well, not much.

10 am, ha?

Better mention that with this extended daylight saving it still effectively darkened hut until after 7:15am and even though I can be up an hour earlier, first listening to the 6am weather report, there’s plenty to potter around doing, watching the colours change on the clouds, if there is cloud, scribbling some more in my notebook, or fiddling about making a second cup of coffee which is not really on the daily plan but it seems I have bought a lot of generous quantities of coffee and it’s probably better for my knees not to lug any excess of weight.

There’s a calm with the early morning to appreciate and enjoy and in any case the sign says five hours to my night’s accommodation, what’s the rush, I’ve got to the point where I can spin that five hours into a whole day.

The view from the pass was indeed great, you could look back to the orange speck of Hut 513 that I’d just left and about 150° around, facing the bulk of Red Hill, you could make out a light green speck of Hunters hut, similarly way down there.

Maybe it’s all these climbs, or more probably the descents, you generally plunge, losing altitude at a great rate, today was a 700m climb followed by a 700m descent, but with a giant loop to follow the obvious ridge, then, just to end the day, a 15 minute hill climb from the river to get to Hunters.

Immediately after the boots come off I wonder if I’ll be able to continue on tomorrow, feet somewhat damaged, muscles glowing, but then in the morning everything seems alright.

There’s a note in the hut book about there being a problem with water at the next hut, Porters Creek, four hours away, but it seems as if that walk is mostly undulating rather than huge climbs so I might leg it tomorrow, jump Porters and head on to the final hut, Red Hill.

With the wind blowing on the ridge today, up around the 1500 m elevation mark, I ended up with my rain jacket on as a windproof layout, with my thick winter beanie on, and for a while anyway, even my gloves.

High clouds, no hint of rain with the hills in the distance, now Mt Patriarch to the east, and Kahurangi appeared again out west, a chalky indigo colour.

That all deserves a decent contemplation.

I take the attitude these days that I’ll probably not traversed this route again and if I do the weather might not be so benign, views obscured, soak up life while you can.

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