I awoke thinking after seven days, I should have a rest day, except I had that back on Day 3. My knee still felt it, so I thought about a half day. Maybe just down to the rafters’ sheltered campsite at Stoney Flat, where I could contemplate the Clarence River.
I ruled out Dubious Bivvy due to its distance upstream, but I thought I should camp at the base of Dubious Stream for the night to have time for another think.
You usually regret not doing something, rather than doing it.
But instead, I lay on my back and watched the high clouds forming, something absent from the skies the day before.
The wind came in gusts.
A southerly would be coming through later in the afternoon, but it was weakening as it moved north and was unlikely to provide much rain.
Time to finish breakfast and saddle up.
Then I found the gusts had ripped out a tent peg, resulting in a smashed tent pole. Later, I examined it closely and believed it might be fixed just by cutting off the crushed length with some hacksaw, but it wasn’t so easy to repair in the field with limited tools. An aluminium sleeve would assist in the long term. Not quite catastrophic for my summer, but this would be a significant problem in heavy winds.
I wandered back down the stream and went to look at the group of willow trees adjacent to the Clarence River for camping.
The river bank was seriously undercut, and a 4 m high clay bank presented itself. So instead, I walked on and went up an old cattle path, except that it turned into a minor cliff that required my pack to be flung up and a full frontal assault. Okay, it was less than 2 m but still tough work.
Soon I was on the four-wheel-drive track and able to make good time. From the almost cloudless early morning, the sky changed to leaden clouds on the hills, if not immediately overhead. Wind now had little to stop its progress, and the southerly breeze, 10° C cooler than yesterday, battered a lone tramper in the landscape.
I dropped into Dubious Creek and found the most sheltered campsite, operating on Plan A. I was still seriously considering Dubious Bivvy for the following day, but eventually, as the wind arrived in huge gusts, common sense prevailed, and I moved onto Goose Flat Hut, the one with no bunks and a dirt/dusty floor. At least it had a low bench to cook and sit on.
Yes, reality set in. One out of three bivvies would suffice. I planned an early start with a destination of either Quail Flat or Forbes Hut for the following day. With the wind buffeting the hut, it was miserable conditions for a tent that I wouldn’t risk further damaging.
Luxury DOC huts for me now, all the way. That’s going to require a lot of effort, starting tomorrow.