6 am.

Yup, that’s rain.

On Day 21 I finally get some precipitation, perhaps to remind me what it is like. Rain has been avoiding my presence for a while: in Melbourne it was eight years of drought, breaking the day after I left; then a full Dry Season up north in Oz; Perth’s driest ever winter; another Dry Season getting to Cape York; then last year in New Zealand with the Long Summer, and the mildest winter in memory; it has gone on bit.

There is the thought that at some time the books will need to be balanced but I’ve appreciated my good fortune while it has lasted.

Rain generally sounds worse when you’re under a tin roof, once you’re out there, particularly when it is mild in temperature with no wind, and it’s 14° C inside, with a decent raincoat it doesn’t seem so bad, just no dawdling recommended, I’m about to try out my new overtrou I’ve been lugging and have only put on once, two nights ago with the sandfly onslaught at Caroline Creek Bivvy.

I note there is only one day’s food remaining in my pack and it’s an austere one at that, boy, will I’d be enjoying some serious eating tomorrow night.

The drizzle ain’t so bad as I scurried around to the Cullers hut to make the acquaintance of the four hunters ensconced, one still in his sack despite the lateness in the day. I find they have actually seen a deer but couldn’t get close enough to have a ping and have had to make do with the chamois and a pig. Too hot, one says, the only thing he caught up on the tops was sunstroke.

No chance of that today and after 20 minutes of banter I charge off, nothing to slow me down today, the drizzle continues, I get colder, I’m wondering when those flakes will start floating down.

For once I’m seeing what I can do in getting A to B and I’m surprised how quickly Ada Pass comes around, and then, almost before realising, I’m at Ada Pass hut.

There’s five Poms inside getting lunch ready, a large pile of bread with cheese and avocado in some sandwiches, jam in others, stacked on the table, the two adolescents seemed somewhat less enthusiastic, mum and her sister still smiling. I have a snack, a chunk of cheese and a few dates, and am sure that they haven’t realised that this is the termination of my lunch ration for the trip, it’s slim pickings.

There’s a considerable pile of reading material on the table and after the others have left I whack my winter beanie on the top of my wet lightweight one and manage to get through six months of Wilderness magazine from 2006.

Then realising how cold I’ve become, some time has passed — I really motor down to Cannibal Gorge Hut.

The other half of 2006 awaits but only after I spent the longest amount of time just about ever getting the fire underway, there’s a newly sliced up silver beech tree courtesy of DOC and the serviced hut phenomena but the Pommy team have chopped up the kindling this morning and the wet wood proves difficult to ignite. Eventually persistence pays off, oh, and there’s coal as well, and the stove finally throws out some much-needed heat.

I guess with this 21 day to date walk, one more day, I’ve lost some of my, err, conditioning, seen some insulation has been burnt off with this rather inadequate diet.

The drizzle is scheduled to cease this evening, I hope so, I’ll be standing at the side of the road after a couple of hours run down the gorge in the morning, with a shaggy face, no other footwear than my boots, or hut booties, and I’m not wearing them, and a choice of either ragged shorts or my overtrou, having left behind my trackie daks with the crowds at Angelus hut, I’m hoping someone will take pity on me and give me a lift to Nelson. I hope it doesn’t take too long, there will be no more food left in the pack.

Yes, and it’s only fitting that my last night for this trip should be once again solo.

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