Last night: dense cloud.

This morning: ditto.

Just the vague shapes of a few weatherbeaten trees could be discerned from the windows. A few showers sweep through but didn’t amount to much.

Strange to have the run of such a large hut, that at one stage prior to the major slip had been completely booked out until May, ie, another four months.

Where was everyone?

Did I care?

Just a bizarre change from earlier expectations on the new Great Walk where all huts were fully booked until May. Then a few days before the official opening a major slip cut the track halfway, and everyone had cancelled their hut bookings.

I packed up the lightest pack I hefted all summer.

No tent. No food. Few clothes.

Just a gentle roll down the hill now. Humidity was 100%.

Actually, it didn’t really matter whether the drizzle continued or not, as it only took a short period to be completely soaked. With the donning of yesterday’s wet clothes, well, yeah, it was lucky no one else was around. Fortunately my sense of smell is poor.

I have never minded travelling back over the same track. For a start, it never seems as long. But you get to have a closer examination now you’ve worked out what the more interesting parts are. Today was looking at the areas where mature tree ferns predominated. I’m struggling to think of other such areas, at least that weren’t just regrowth.

The Paparoa Range never had much in the way old tracks until a few years ago, but it was great to be wandering between some massive tree ferns that must be hundreds of years old.

On the way out I spoke to the new hut warden who was walking in who believed work on the actual slip had only started last week. The geotech guy had suggested the slip be left over the summer “to see what it did”, and now a final assessment had been made.

All too soon I was avoiding the kamikaze tourists on the Pororari River walk. I just hoped they didn’t also drive like that.

And then, the car park.

Down the coast there was little sense that the cloud was still hovering around the backcountry hills, but I knew.

Back to civilisation. Back to reality.

My summer was done.

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