Surprisingly everyone was up early.
I was even beaten by the Norwegian women, because I wanted to listen to the 6 am news. In the time it took for me to eat porridge and drink two cups of coffee, the others all got up, had breakfast, packed and left. I was the last to depart by some considerable distance.
Kinda misty drizzle until I made it over Harper Pass.
I just mooched along, happy to be on my own again. One night with others is usually sufficient to satisfy my social requirements.
I walked up the river bed, or on the river flats to Camerons Hut and then got onto the main track. It was certainly gorgeous forest, with hanging lichen and plenty of moss. Very attractive.
I stopped at the Harper Pass Bivvy that I have stayed at on three previous occasions. This time it was just for lunch. I remembered back to my first time through, with my partner of the time back in May 2002. It was just a few weeks after Geoff Chapple had gone through on his original reconnaissance for Te Araroa. That was back when 10 to 15 parties a year went over the Pass. Now 10 people can do it a day. Back then I lit a fire because we were wet and freezing. Perhaps I needed to alert my partner that I could light a fire in inclement conditions. I over achieved and almost burned the hut down. Toasted one side, still freezing the other. We needed to rotisserie ourselves. Fortunately the fireplace has been removed the following year.
Not so bad today, but I did don my raincoat at this stage, mainly due to the wind.
It looked considerably brighter on the coast. The 400 m drop on the other side of the Pass is much steeper than the gentle approach from the Hurunui side.
You get down quick.
I spent time at the swingbridge looking at the fine red beech trees. No black algae coating.
Soon after, some new slips have changed the river. Lots more shingle down as far as Locke Stream Hut. Many of the grassy flats that once existed are now washed away, or inundated with rock.
I met a pleasant, talkative Australian in the hut. He had come from Camerons Hut and spent most of the afternoon hanging out, reading his book. Later a young Kiwi woman turned up, a Nobo, northbound on TA. All very happy. Just one of those juxtapositions between three very different people that nevertheless created a great atmosphere.