Early on, with the first daylight, I sat on my bunk on the warmth of the feathers of my sleeping bag and made out the profile of Anita Peak, 2380 m, that is barely discernible in the gloom to the west.
Last day, and just the trudge out. My pack was almost down to my base weight. No de-hy remaining, actually nothing at all for dinner.
The batteries finally died on my headlamp on the way back from a pre-dawn trip to the toilet, although I still had plenty of recharging power for my phone with my second powerbank. Coffee to last more days. Three muesli bars that I don’t think I could have forced down for lunch.
All that was left was a bunch of 8 litre dry bags that were empty, except for recycled Ziploc bags: for rice, porridge, nuts, etc.
Not all that much in my rubbish bag considering I’m approaching two weeks in here.
Instead, I’m carrying memories.
The stag at close range on Day 2.
The first view up the Hopkins River Valley as I turned the corner to Monument Hut.
The chain on the climb up to Dasler Bivvy. And the bivvy.
The approach to Erceg Hut up near the top of the valley.
The vista above Brodrick Hut of the pass, and all the vertical mountains and glaciers.
The sight of the tiny South Huxley Bivvy with the ramparts of Mount Huxley rising sharply beyond.
All this, and way more.
But I’m ahead of myself, I still had my slow plod out to the car park.
Starting with the river braids to get my toes tingling, and do whatever waking up my coffees had failed to achieve. The Huxley River is about 80% of the flow in the Hopkins River at that point, and the water was over the top of my gaiters, so my socks had a final rinse.
It will take a while for my feet to dry from their generally sodden last weeks.
Monument Hut had no occupants, but ten vehicles were parked, including a couple of two-wheel-drives surprisingly.
I’m not sure where the hunters were, but this morning’s deer tracks within 100 m of both huts indicated that they could productively spend time closer to home. One stag was roaring even further down the valley.
Sometimes the last steps feel the longest of kilometres.
The pines where my car was parked were visible from way off, and when I checked my GPS it looked like it was about 8 km to go. Those trees took a long time to look even vaguely closer.
But the sun was out. A cool wind was blowing in the mid-morning.
It was a great day.← Day 12 | Red Hut, third time