A beautiful morning, although it was still dark at 7 am. That will change with daylight saving coming to an end in a few days’ time.

I wandered around the clearing where the hut was, trying to take a decent image of my accommodation.

I was well-rested, but surprised I’d left all my breakfast back at the car. Instead, I ate some abandoned apple and cinnamon oaties, and some stray no-name instant coffee to go with milk powder that I had in fact carried.

Eventually, the sun came over the mountains, and I took another round of photos. No sign of last night’s shooters, who seemed to blast off more rounds this morning, but were clearly camping up high.

In the end, it was almost 10 am before I walked off down the valley. Not a cloud, and I enjoyed the track once again, well, the top half.

Major surprise when getting to the lowest clearing and spotting some antlers quite close. The noise of Maitland Stream masked my typical crashing along. It was standing in some sunshine, drying out, and initially couldn’t hear or smell me. I was 90% concealed by the river bank and some tussock.

Camera at the ready, I popped over and shot a few images, this time with my camera battery operational. Looked like an eight-pointer, maybe ten. But once it recognised me, it decided not to stick around, and pranced off over the tussock.

Yeah, that was the highlight, as from there I climbed up out of the valley and had to deal with the scree slopes again. I turned on an audiobook and just kept plugging away. Sidling through tussock on steep slopes is not my preferred tramping experience.

Then I had the downhill on the farm track that didn’t cause my toes excessive concerns now I was wearing leather boots that firmly held my feet in place. Three gates to climb over, and that wasn’t simple with my flexibility waning.

The next valley on my list is Temple Stream, and there is a DOC campsite at the start of the track. Three hours each way sounds like a day trip. That way I can keep my tent up.

I spoke to four hunters camping at the Temple camping area, and they said someone they saw in the afternoon had counted 13 tents in the valley.

Seems like I might have arrived a month late.

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