Of all places for my night’s accommodation I wouldn’t have picked I would get to here. At least when I left Hope Kiwi early on.
I was kind of intending on Evangeline Hut but at lunchtime as I contemplated the sign on the edge of Lake Sumner saying five hours to the bivvy I had two thoughts.
Yeah, the five hour one, climbing 500 m in elevation up the creek. Then having to come back down, either tomorrow, or the next day if the weather was poor.
Contemplation Point 2. The open flats shown on the map were completely covered in low-flying manuka, meaning the easiest access was probably straight up the creek. Also, as a corollary there was no track shown on the map.
On the other hand I’d already been there in my youth, when I came over Mt Longfellow. No actual need to return.
I still had a week’s food and my tent and sleeping mat in my pack. I could continue around the lake to Gabriel Hut.
That was a plan.
However when I arrived at Gabriel there was the noise of more than one large rodent running around in the building paper under the roof sheeting that made me contemplate other lodgings. I guess I could have pitched my tent but with a deluge predicted for tomorrow that didn’t seem the best option.
So Jollie Brook it is.
Last night at Hope Kiwi Hut I shared with three others, surprisingly all Kiwis. A brother and sister, near my age, doing the South Island Te Araroa, and a younger section walker. We all arrived in reasonable time, and had a good chat.
I failed to recount my two strongest memories of that hut.
My first visit was in my last year at uni in Christchurch with a group of guys on probation, and my probation officer housemate. We spent the evening listening to stories of various criminal endeavours. And my second visit early the following year, I was in the hut when someone shot a deer out the window, deafening us all inside. No suppressors in those days.
Remarkable the easy amiability that New Zealanders bring to a hut.
Today was one of the best days of my summer, clear and hot. Invercargill had its hottest day ever yesterday. It was sure warm today. No wonder I was somewhat lethargic.
Third away despite being first up.
The track up to Kiwi Saddle is now well beaten out courtesy of the many Te Araroa walkers. It seemed strange it was so recent that you made your own way along the forest edge type of thing.
Then I dropped down to Lake Marion, but there was already a chop to the surface. No mirror reflection today.
The track was overgrown in places, mostly from red beech tree regrowth, but it was fantastic underfoot. Not excessively worn, but well marked.
Then it was a drop down to the lake edge for some boulder hopping most of the way to Evangeline Stream. One bluff to climb around.
The afternoon had a long sidle above the lake with an occasional fallen tree, slip, or overgrown section to negotiate more thoughtfully. All the ups and downs were well marked along the lake.
It was late in the day when I made my dash to Jollie Brook Hut. Fortunately the loop track around Jollie Brook is fully benched and reasonably maintained so it was easy to smash out the last two hours over Gabriel Saddle to Jollie Brook Hut.
No one home.