Good sleep, feeling frisky.

Or, it’s amazing how well four strong cups of coffee will perk you up.

I am here, at a newly renovated eight bunk hut I have to myself. Might as well make the most of it and have a day trip to Brodrick Hut. That’s my brain doing its thing. My body wasn’t so certain.

I have had 18 days tramping out of the last 22, and my only real tramping rest day has been my stationary day at Palmer Hut, and that sure seems a long time ago.

Still, I whacked my damp socks on, and wet boots, and headed up the North Huxley Valley, albeit without my pack. I find that tramping is a great deal easier that way.

A flood track exists, and considering I couldn’t safely cross the Huxley River yesterday, might be required. The hut book suggests climbing around the first slip, but when I reached it, not long after the swingbridge crossing, the river seemed the less energy intensive alternative, and, my boots were already sodden.

So, I kept in the riverbed, as suggested, but crossed the river numerous times depending on the terrain underfoot.

Glancing up at dozens of car-sized boulders cantilevered precariously with a variety of altitudes encouraged rock hopping up the wrong side of the river much of the time, and also gave a better opportunity to survey the surrounding mountains.

I missed the recommended track at the third to last creek, and instead opted for more river crossings, perilously perched rocks, and continued bashing up the river.

Noticing this I took heed of the turnoff to the hut, thanks to my GPS, because it’s a ten minute or so climb to Brodrick Hut. The hut is still in forest, but just 40 m on is the open space of the helicopter landing pad, and a remarkable view of a splendid basin, huge, with Brodrick Pass, 1635 m, Mount Mackenzie, 2156 m, Mount Trent, 2335 m, Mount Strauchon, 2391 m, and a whole bunch of unnamed glaciers, now looking shiny in the midday light.

One of the great alpine views with the south facing ramparts of Mount Fraser, 2277 m, towards the north, particularly gnarly and totally impressive.

That’s what I came up here for.

The climb up to Brodrick Pass that is the high point going over to Creswicke Flat Hut in the Landsborough River Valley looked totally doable, even for me, but that will wait for another day. In any case, the climb down on the other side of the pass is more than twice the side I was looking at.

I munched my lunch and sat around marvelling at our remarkable country until totally chilled, thanks to my soaked feet, and it was time to return.

It’s always a lot easier going back, you know where to go for a start. I stayed on the track where suggested until the third stream, and thereby bypassed a second close examination of the little gorge, and of course, it was much faster on an even sketchy track. Then I powered downstream, noting that it is quite steep and that assisted descent.

Approaching the last slip I spotted a tramper in the distance, with me on the other side of the river. No, there were four of them, six maybe, but in the end I counted 13. They waved out, but for some reason preferred not to cross the river in an easy spot but charged upstream at the foot of the cliff with all those rocks hanging above.

By the time I crossed they were a long way upstream, with the group forced to contemplate crossing in a less favourable spot.

Just downstream were more bodies standing around, and I made my suggestions. Cross the river where required, they already had wet feet as well, climb up to the track at the third to last stream, and most important, locate the markers for the climb to the hut. Another 14 bodies, and it was 3 15 pm, still enough light to get to the hut and set up their tents. They were kids on an Outward Bound mission and had experienced one injury already. A staff member had taken them back to civilisation. He was going to have his work cut out to catch up before dark.

Now I was only ten minutes from the hut.

An hour later Angus strolled by and stopped for a bite. He explained they were a school party from Te Anau heading over Brodrick Pass to Creswicke Flat Hut the next day, then rafting down the Grade 4 Landsborough River. The rafts were going to be choppered in.

Suddenly all quiet. I ate dinner and immediately climbed into my sleeping bag.

Still some daylight, but I guess even at full pace Angus was going to arrive at the hut just on full dark.

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A guide to the night’s accommodation: Huxley Forks Main Hut
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