If yesterday was pure exhilaration today was more about toil.

Not so much in the way in views, it started with a similar cotton wool seen down below, and then that was a short hour’s climb to Purple Top, where you don’t actually go right to the summit, but at least you can see right across to Starveall hut site, although the hut wasn’t apparent in the early morning shadow. From there it was down, a lot of down from 1500 m to less than 400 m, mostly through forest although there was occasionally views back to Purple Top.

Much of the way to Tarn Hut you’re oscillating along that strange pigmy mountain beech forest, some prostrate hebe or ancient clubmoss adding some vivid Sherwood Forest green to the otherwise colour subdued colour palette, easy walking, certainly considerably easier than yesterday’s fun with the track. I kinda feel like I need a quiet, err, day.

Then again at the back of my mind is the problem of the extra night at Old Man Hut, that means that there is one extra hut than I have nights of food, at some point, I will have to jump a hut. Most trampers are always jumping huts, they cut the times back from, say five hours to less than four, longer days in summer mean some enthusiasts jump to two huts. Somewhere in the hut books was the tale of the Germans who sailed from Middy Hut to Slaty Hut in a day meaning they stayed in the fifth hut, but then they missed that beautiful pool just below Roebuck hut, but I guess that’s just youth and exuberance.

To me the object is not really the walking, I’ve done plenty of that, I take the attitude that I probably won’t walk this path again, at least not with such splendid weather, there’s not so much point in running past everything.

Today made sense to catch up to my minimal and austere food supply and having reached the splendidly sited Tarn Hut, there’s a certain familiarity to these five bunk huts now, I’ll have to check the definition of “tarn” but I’d call that expanse of water a lake, albeit one of modest dimension, surrounded by superb red beech forest.

By 1 pm there was a whole afternoon to make my way down to Mid Wairoa Hut, finally back to a hut on a flowing stream.

That meant a big drop in elevation, some pleasant and the knees coping well enough but as the river drew closer steepness increased, the mountain beech phasing out, replaced by the black trunk red beech, some totaras up on the ridges, all and all more beauty of the short vista, the Nelson forest.

Then the river: the swing bridge and a view of that absolutely clear water. There hasn’t been any decent rain of days so I guess the level is low but those pools look extraordinary, particularly the ones you have to gather water from just upstream of the hut.

There will be more to be said about the river tomorrow, I’m following it upstream for 4.5 hours according to the sign.

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