Well, even for such an experienced traveller I’m not much of a loser. I’ve had a T-shirt stolen off washing line once. A hat left at a lunch stop. Not much else lost. I dropped my raincoat on the track a few weeks ago, and spent three hours recovering it.
I finally dropped something else. My head torch. Probably when I dropped my pants at the toilet at Blue River Hut.
This time I’m not going back. Would be a whole day’s effort for recovery. I think there’s a spare somewhere in my luggage, and that one has occasional issues where it simply stops working.
Should note the daylight hours are fairly long at the moment. Is not truly dark until 10 30 pm. By 6 am I can crash around, or work by Braille if required. 6 30 am is properly light.
Mostly used it to write this blog while sitting in my sleeping bag, and there is a clever workaround for that.
Sit at the table during daylight hours.
Man, what a difference a day makes. Yesterday gloom, and then total dampness.
Today only more gloom and normal dampness.
My clothes haven’t dried. My pack is still wet, although I hung it to assist with dry.
It’s going to be a big day. That sign says nine hours to Coppermine Creek Hut.
The track is apparently more overgrown, and care is needed in picking it up again after Robinson Creek.
The reality is that not many people walk the full Cattle Trail. I checked the hut book and there were only 29 parties last year. The logistics with the location in a fairly remote part of the country, and getting from end to end via the road make it awkward.
I strolled up to Lake Law, although when I think of it, scrabbled might be a better term. At the north-east corner a mature tree had been chopped down, and a vantage point gave a splendid view of the lake that was getting its first ruffles to spoil a perfect mirror surface.
Then it was into my still wet clothes from yesterday. Yeah, cold and clammy, but I soon heated them up once out on the track. Before 10 am, by a bit.
Man, packing up I discovered my errant headlamp in the pocket of my hoodie. Strangely I slept on it, but in my chill and tiredness I failed to notice. Crisis averted.
Yesterday was a gentle lead in to today where the creek crossings had their moments, and the old cattle track had collapsed in quite a few places. Also encounters with some major windfalls that needed some effort to negotiate.
Chasm Creek stopped my flow of steps. From a distance it looks fairly perilous, with a 15 m vertical drop into stream that had to be negotiated on a wet, sloping, and potentially greasy rock face. It didn’t help that a dead tree was partially covering the route. I guess it seemed easier as I clambered over it, remembering to focus on what was immediately in front of me, rather than looking down.
If coming from the other direction, the south, you might not realise the full nature of the cliff until it was all over.
No surprise that I read in the hut book that someone, a solo woman, had turned back at Chasm Creek. It really needs a rope of some description to offer any sense of security.
Some sections of the track were just sublime sailing, then it was more windfall, dropping into a creek, or just the old track no longer in evidence.
Robinson Creek offered the other main obstacle. Observant people may notice a large orange triangular marker at least 100 m away, but it is not entirely evident how to get there.
Some toi toi makes for ambiguity, but eventually you can find the way down to cross the creek. Getting up to the now hidden marker wasn’t so easy. Maybe I should have just shuffled around at low level to the gravel gut and headed straight up.
Instead, I stayed on the grass, climbing above the slip, then dropping down to the track. Others have been confused, and wasted plenty of time here, although I guess they made it through.
The remarkable aspect of the day is how much the track reminded me of my first real tramping experiences, heading up the Dun Mountain Railway, just out of Nelson, before it was turned into a bike track. Overgrown, with a lot of slumpage that made the track slope. I recall that one short section had a length of Number 8 wire to assist with climbing. That’s all been rebuilt, and level these days to allow those zipping mountain bikers.
It would be a fairly intrepid mountain bike are coming through here. Guess there’s lots of pushing, and a fair amount of carrying involved.
Me? Just the scheduled nine hours, the last part out into some farmland, complete with mooing cows.
Fortunately there are some mosquito coils in the hut, because there sure are plenty of mosquitoes inside.
I’m on my own once again.
But now not even a mozzie for company.