How often do you get a day when it all comes together: location, weather, scenery.

Up on this Alpine Route, a cloudless sunrise over Mt Richmond, which I couldn’t quite see, the summit obscured by a closer hill, I went back down the track a few hundred metres to take it in.

No great urgency all day, it was stated as a five hour walk, so I took my time, climbing back up Slaty Peak to see where the views were, the Pelorus was still right down there but you could see the blue ridges of the Sounds way in the distance, Mt Fell and Mt Richmond looking imposing with those cliff faces, but Mt Rintoul equally grandiose and you could see bits of Abel Tasman and plenty of the Arthur Range and round to a big Mt Owen.

Over behind Old Man, that’s a mountain, the Inland Kaikouras popped up, Tapuae-o-Uenuku , so all in all it’s worth a look.

The day’s walk was mostly exposed, tramping along narrow ridges, sometimes quite narrow indeed, drops both sides.

Then, getting up Old Man, the view is huge down the Wairau, there is Blenheim in the distance, the sea, that’s Cook Strait, and some hills of the North Island. To the south you can see the Red Hills where I’ll be in a few day’s time.

This morning’s forecast was for a cold front to move through tomorrow afternoon, just want to be over Rintoul before then, it looks even more exposed up there, but after that most walking for the next few days is through bush. So I make the most of the occasion, not exactly skedaddling to Rintoul hut as many do, instead taking in all this oxygen, all this reality spread out.

That’s the obvious place to leave this day’s entry but there was more. You drop down quite sharply, losing 250 m in elevation from the main track to get to the surprisingly delightful Old Man Hut, entirely aptly named today as I staggered in. The old NZFS SF70 hut was built in 1966 and was refurbished 15 years or so ago, the major changes being a few windows bunged in, what a difference sunlight to the interior can make, a pot belly stove instead of an original open fireplace, a stainless steel bench and a porch with a water tank.

Because of the substantial detour many walkers particularly on TA avoid this hut, I guess I will add the 250 m climb onto tomorrow’s efforts, but it’s worth a loOkay The hut sits in a small clearing, it’s even flattish, which explains why the hut was located here.

Somehow I might have my third consecutive night on my lonesome and that’s a joy. What’s not in the joy department is the wind, which is up substantially and the top of the Baby Rintoul is well immersed in cloud, despite the remainder of the sky being clear. The forecast is confusing, it covers from Taupo to Canterbury, with fine conditions except for a passing shower as the cold front goes through. I guess the temperature will drop. Hopefully the wind will drop.

I’m not thinking too much about it, I’ve got good weather protective clothing and if it’s really windy tomorrow I can always stay another day here at Old Man.

No worries.

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