Woke at 6 am. Time for some more chat while I packed up, and ate breakfast.

For once I was out in the hills without my pack as I made my way up to Middle Head Hut for a look.

Plenty of Old man’s beard to start once again and some great spooky forest. The track was well marked, and while recently downgraded by DOC to a route, meaning they no longer are going to cut the vegetation back, for much of the way it was not an issue. I guess as windfall happen it will become harder to follow, but currently it was okay.

A crossing of the Moeraki River was required but was only knee deep, on a decent gravel bed.

The last kilometre was steeper with some boulder hopping required, smashing up a branch of the river just to remind me it was a West Coast river, ie, serious boulder negotiation required.

Middle Head Hut was in excellent condition as few seem to make their way up, but I’m glad I did. The cliffs in the valley were colossal, and perhaps I should have gone further up the valley, but if I wanted to reach Blue River Hut that probably wasn’t a good idea. I guess I could have stayed at Horseshoe Flat Hut another night, but I know that tomorrow was in for heavy rain and I should move on.

Returning on the same track always seems a great deal quicker, and I made it back to Horseshoe by lunchtime, despite spending considerable looking out for the mistletoe that DOC was monitoring. Pretty easy to spot being in flower, with bright red flowers standing out against the general green colours of the forest. Sadly not all the tagged trees seemed to display it. Possums love them some mistletoe.

1080 was dropped in the valley two years before, presumably to eliminate possums and allow the mistletoe to regenerate.

Then it was donning my heavy pack, and re-walking yesterday’s efforts, and yeah, a pack always seems heavier on the second day.

In the Moeraki riverbed three twisted steel beams could be seen from an old bridge, maybe 600 mm deep, and 10 m long. I wondered about the stories of getting them off the boat, and somehow hauling them to this remote and reasonably inaccessible location. A huge effort by the oxen team would have been required, but anyone who remembers anything of the old stories are no longer around. Monumental effort, and now they lie twisted.

A farmer from Whataroa, and his two teenage sons were occupying Blue River Hut, but they made me quite welcome.

Yeah, I’ll sleep well again tonight.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Blue River Hut

Built in 1905, but since renovated. | Blue River Hut, Haast Paringa Cattle Trail
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