Red sky in the morning. Err, shepherd’s warning.

A helicopter cruises past, then back again. Maybe fishermen or hunters dropped near Top Hope Hut, I guess.

Patches of blue sky. At least it’s not drizzling.

I listen to the mountain weather forecast, and it hasn’t mentioned anything dreadful for the next four days.

At this stage I’m thinking that unless the weather changes dramatically for the better, it’s probable that I’ll scoot back to Nelson for a while once I’ve circumnavigated Lake Sumner. Do the South Westland thing once I’ve dried out.

That mean slipping back to Windy Point rather than towards Greymouth.

Still, I have a week’s more food so no hurry with that decision. Is fantastic to have that degree of flexibility. By then my body will have been going almost five weeks.

I left early enough, and wandered up the Hope Valley. Like that Hurunui River, it is very easy-going, made easier by a quad bike track through the grass. And the grass was fairly dry.

No pack required, so good time was made. The first half was easy, in the last 1.5 km climbed around up half a bluff.

What do I care about wet feet? They were pre-wetted by crossing the Hope River yesterday.

More fishermen in the river. Well, one, with his guide. An expensive day out with the helicopter flight included.

I kind of felt I’d already had a full day’s work when I made it back to St Jacobs.

The day was finally a proper summer day. White puffy clouds, and deep blue sky.

The valley is wide, and good views were head of the surrounding hills.

After lunch, it was a case of throwing on my pack and ambling back down the river.

I hadn’t had full solitude on my excursion, but I wasn’t sure I was ready for the onslaught of the Te Araroa walkers found at the Hope Kiwi Lodge. With the fine weather the rivers would be crossable, so they may be bursting with energy to get a move on.

Then again, you can’t really predict the numbers in any hut. A few random people are wandering around at this time of the year.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Hope Kiwi Lodge

Hope Kiwi Lodge, Lake Sumner
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