Cramp overnight. Three times. Man, that was painful.

Not good when incarcerated in the straightjacket of a mummy sleeping bag, while prostrate on the ground.

A combination of dehydration, tiredness, and cool temperatures. I have a magnesium pill that alleviates matters in about a minute.


Despite the sleep interruptions I managed to listen to the 6 am news on my little transistor radio, but the valley is poorly orientated for reception, east/west, so I didn’t pick up much.

I’d already decided to do a short day, rather than getting over to Branch Bivvy. That requires climbing over an 1890 m pass.

Early on I mulled around my first campsite, having an extra coffee, and sat contemplating my great fortune to be able to camp at such an exquisite site. The sunlight was filtered by the forest, so eventually, I made tracks to the hut.

Turned out it was 45 minutes further on with some walking through river flats, with a proportion up a bouldery gorge. I was the first there for six weeks.

Not quite. At the hut, a young hunter and his mother who had passed me while I was lolling around my campsite were contemplating options, and decided to head further up the valley and up the north branch.

I must have stayed at the hut for a couple of hours before heading off myself.

The marked track had finished, but at the end of the big clearing, a deer trail style track began, although washed out by flooding, and with a few windfall taking time to get around.

The “track” stopped and started, but I kept on it mostly, although I zipped across a scree slope that seemed obvious later to go up and over the top.

Not so far to the first really big clearing, but after seeing the creek had gone underground for a while, and also drying up at the start of the flat, I decided on an early camp where a tributary was still flowing. Mr Dehydration needs his water.

So, I just made it to another camp on the other side of Lees Creek Hut. A big two hours for the day. The valley narrows considerably after that point and camping would be an issue, although I found there is a small campsite or two upstream at the creek forks.

I dropped my pack and deviated slightly to chat for the third time that day to the hunter and mother. They decided to go back to the hut, which made sense with the wind direction, ie, straight up the valley.

My tent went up on the flat, tussock-free patch, adjacent to the tributary. The views both up and down the valley were glorious.

A little later a climber came past. So you think you’re tramping on your own, but it seems I had some company for a while during daylight hours.

Now the sun is about to drop behind a ridge and it will suddenly get cool, not the roasting I’m getting in my woollens.

An earlier start will be needed tomorrow, and I’ll need to keep up the pace to get over to Branch Bivvy.

No great necessity to get there, but there aren’t too many alternative stopping points.

Then I will have caught up to my schedule.

DOC Nelson isn’t too interested in this fringe area to its extensive domain, but over in the Branch it will be DOC operated from Renwick, and they take their tracks seriously. They should be well marked from Branch Bivvy on.

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