If it rained overnight I never noticed. I slept solidly after that rock hopping exercise during the day.

But clouds shrouded the hills, and the day had a distinctly different feel to the summer sunshine the day before.

That was the third night I’d spent in Basin Hut, all them on my lonesome. And that’s just the way I like it, of course.

I spend all day walking out, although DOC has it down for six hours.

I left right on the dot, but the dot was 9 am. No great hurry, I guess, but I didn’t want the DOC guys who had passed through to Avoca Hut the day before to come back down, after four hours upstream, before I’d left.

It was just a steady plod down the big wide valley once again on a four-wheel-drive track that came and went at times, but generally had a reasonable surface.

The rivers certainly seemed lower than when I came in.

I went to look at the collapsed Triangle Hut, an old musterers’ hut, and was surprised to find the construction, a basic slab hut with a 3 inch reinforced concrete skin that had mostly broken up when the walls went down, probably in some earthquake.

Then I saw the uncollapsed version, Townsend Hut, amongst the old Forest Research Institute buildings, now called The Retreat, that I also inspected.

Joining Te Araroa, it was just two hours to go.

I saw, way behind, the DOC guys making haste, but then they disappeared. I later learned they had to take some measurements at Lake Lillian and had a 45-minute detour. They overtook me by cruising down the road that had been padlocked off, rather than taking the more windy river route.

We met up where they had parked their car, and had a chat about the delights of the area. At least they said the next four day’s weather would be great, and by this stage, mid-afternoon, it certainly was.

The campsite had a totally different, and quite unexpected appearance. Unlike the Sunday night when I have camped, this time around it was totally deserted, except for my car.

Oh, well, I could cope with that. I already had my 10 minutes of conversation for the day.

Plenty of time to get my food sorted for my next trip up the Wilberforce River Valley.

I’ll be marching off tomorrow.

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