A few more clouds this morning, starting around the peaks, like Mt Horrible directly across the Waimak, but there’s still enough blue sky to give hope of yet another day without rain, none experienced as yet, which is strange for the first month of spring. I seem to drag drought with me wherever I go. I sense there’s a few days of reckoning on the way.

Last night? Surprisingly comfortable thanks to, mainly, my soft-shell jacket, arms folded neatly, but sleep was not assisted by the Full Moon, or that epic possum fight outside the door, just under the porch. If you didn’t know what was happening you might wonder how long before it got you.

Some unmistakable chattering in parrot-like sounds from what I assume is that critically endangered orange fronted, err, parrot, now only surviving in three valleys here on the mainland, 300 specimens estimated to exist. Too dark to see them. This morning squadrons of chaffinches came out of the forest to the day’s efforts in the matagouri, an introduced bird, like many of the pakeha they seem to find things in this country to their liking.

The day worked out pretty much is expected, a hill climb first up, then some easy down, a fair amount of walking out on the open flats before hitting the surprising Casey Saddle, two creeks from either side of the valley deciding to head directly to the Waimak, as opposed to a small swamp and then a creek, this time heading down towards the Poulter and, I guess, eventually meeting up with the Waimak anyway.

Botanical highlights: some magnificent red beech trees, one recently horizontal, some way up the slope in a forest that is otherwise mostly mountain beech. Then just before the final descent to Casey Hut in an area of impoverished soil, evident by the dracophyllum, manuka, and one of my favourite tree specimens, mountain cedar, Lebocedrus bidwillii, which has a similar form to a cedar from the Northern Hemisphere.

The hut was empty and has been for a week, not many get out here at this time of the year. There’s two bunkrooms with zanily stacked bunks, one or is it two, perched above the door. The hut is of the Lockwood style, built in 1969 when housing constructed from unadorned Pinus radiata was the rage, but with all this wind and, for once, I cranked up the firebox so the interior really dried out, the place is creaking and occasionally sounding as if a small calibre rifle, say at .22, was being let off nearby.

I note a few spots of drizzle but I’m committed to continuing on up the river, to Poulter Hut, not so far tomorrow, then probably to Minchin Bivvy the next day.

← Day 8 | Andrews Shelter Day 10 | Poulter Hut →