The trickle of water close by, with more of a rush just downstream.
Calm. Blue skies with a slight streaky haze indicated winds up high.
I noticed it was a Sunday and New Year’s Day 2023.
Only needing to get to the hut, I had no great rush today, so I lay in and then sat in the direct sunlight as it warmed up.
It was a lovely campsite with a great view of the rugged, treeless low hills.
Four Australasian harriers perched on rocks high above me, waiting for some rising air currents to do their thing. Lots of talking amongst themselves, just like any family on a public holiday, and then they decided to go elsewhere.
But I found a bank to sit on, a pleasant morning perch despite being completely surrounded by matagouri and sweet briar. It had taken a lot of effort to get there, so I might as well take some time to notice what was there rather than just running on through.
My New Year’s resolution: be more social.
That currently wouldn’t be hard.
Later, I wondered if I shouldn’t have a second resolution: avoid narrow gorges, particularly lonely narrow gorges with numerous hanging rocks high above, plus having large jagged specimens in the steeply sloping creek.
Just around the corner from where I camped was another campsite at the base of some mature poplars. It seemed a bit more exposed to the wind, and I thought I’d taken the better deal at my chosen landing.
Slowly the stream became steeper, narrower, and you know the rest. Looking at the map, it looked like about 30 minutes might get me through the impending gorge, then it took an hour longer than that. I just kept powering on.
Closer to the hut, the sides became more gravelly slips that looked like they had slid down in the Kaikoura Earthquake.
Eventually, I made it to the hut, and I could see someone was at home.
The last visitors had failed to shut the door, and the local wildlife had partied on for seven weeks until I arrived. They were keen on much of what was in packets but not the toothpaste. I cleaned most of it up with the limited cleaning gear available, and turned the mattresses over.
My tent and sleeping bag aired in the afternoon sun, but my wet boots would take longer to dry.
When you’re in an isolated four-bunk hut, it’s worth considering a rest day for the following day. I had plenty of food, fuel, and time and found the whole book to read.
I found the mental strain of skedaddling under the cliffs while trying not to look up at those huge overhanging rocks quite exhausting today.
I studied the map on the wall and wondered whether I should take the direct route to Warden Hut. It really seemed to make sense.
Some had done Warden to Limestone and returned as a hunting day trip, so I’d probably make it.