These mid-morning high tides are not assisting progress.

For once I packed up early-ish and left.

First up, a stretch of beach, then prancing about on a long stretch of heavily rusticated granite boulders, is there any more secure purchase for boots than that, and then an early impasse, it’s just after nine.

I’d been ready for a big day of beach trudge and after a minor seal colony a rocky point needs to be skirted, with the tide coming in it’s clear I’m not going to get around that in a hurry. The distance is not actually discernible, might be 100 m, currently more than chest deep, a tatted series of ropes dangling up a vertical surface. Perhaps if in series rather than in parallel they might be reachable, but their state in any case quite dubious.

I’m of the belief that high tide that is just after 10 am. There’s tide tables in Heaphy Hut, I’d written them down for the next week, but then, I wondered if I’d compensated for Daylight Saving Time, that needed to be done, in which case it might top out at 11. And the tide tables were actually for Westport, a further discrepancy there.

In any case I settled in to wait a while, some distance above the seal colony, attempting to minimise disturbance. More thinking while I was sitting there, you have plenty of time to think, there was the issue of what day it actually was, I’ve believed for some reason that yesterday was Friday when it was actually Thursday, there’s another hour discrepancy.

Confused, well, basically high tide could come anytime.

While scampering around the rugged rocks I’d already make the close acquaintance of a few seals, one with a huge bite out of its neck, a flesh wound, but horrific. Clearly a stray male who would henceforth find it hard to look attractive to the ladies.

Each seal did their lumbering maggoty run to the sanctity of the water, thumping and lurching with little self regard once they realised a blue-coated intruder was altogether far too close, ie, within eyesight.

I picked the highest and best vantage point, now obvious as being one of the beast’s territory.

There’s a few stragglers hanging around base camp—four motherless pups. Each were about cement bag sized, ie, not so old, but unlike cement, covered in hair, and emanating an altogether different odour. But actually exhibited one of a cement bags defining characteristics, immobility. A couple of long-whiskered adults came closer for an inspection, accompanied by their pungent odour, then eventually it all went back to life as usual, ie, a whole lot of not much.

After 1 pm I went closer to the point, climbing on a now accessible rock to survey the scene, humm, another half hour. I’ve been here four hours already, then another half hour, it seemed almost wadeable although there looked to be a hole just around the corner.

I’m not quite brave with the solo escapades on a potential lethal adventure, after all three trampers drowned at Lobster Point a few weeks before I first came over the Heaphy. Porters Beach last night named after another drowned soul.

At least any swell was well modulated by exposed rocks now. And as it was I timed it well, the hole turned out to be almost fully sand, overall less than knee deep.

There were mussels on the rocks at the south end of another long beach to pluck for dinner, and then, finally underway, it’s after lunch.

As it turned out the next obstacle was at the end of the beach, a couple of kilometres on, the climb at the south side of a, err, pass, maybe 30 m.

OK, at the top was a long rope, the top half fat, then another scraggly piece appended. The near vertical slope almost requiring the abseil technique, and enthusiasm to continue with my tent and food laden pack rapidly waned. Might try tomorrow without any extra weight, the large congregation of seals and pups at the bottom further disincentive if the non-visibility of the last 10 m of the rope wasn’t already sufficient, dangling over the edge.

A few hundred yards back down the beach was a reasonable stream, a great campsite in the marrum grass, the vista over to an aggregation of vertically inclined rocks emerging from the sea, a couple of sufficient size for a fair amount of vegetation.

That’ll do me fine.

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