OK, so I know it wasn’t so far.
Despite D arriving late the previous evening and setting up camp, we had chatted for an hour, it had been early to bed. No question I was tired, mostly from everything that proceeded yesterday’s efforts.
I was up at 5 20 am to take in the very special sunrise, or pre-dawn. The sunrise was cloudless, that orange to deep blue gradation, the sun coming up to the north of Nelson, but by that time I was slumbering once more. I had a second awakening an hour later, cool still. Had another chat with D about places to go, the Alpine Route, Stewart Island, Mueller Hut, etc.
Then a helicopter landed on the landing pad below the hut, three guys dressed in neat DOC uniforms popped out, chainsaws, spray backpacks with a lever to crank up the pressure for the weeds. Work to do around the hut and track.
As is the way in New Zealand one guy, J, turned out to be the neighbour of a friend of mine I had coffee with the day before I left Nelson, another had heard of a trip I had done with a mutual friend down the shoreline of the West Coast.
Eventually everyone left and I also left, making my slow way up the hill to Castle Rock on this superb day.
I was in no hurry, my pack was heavy, I had at least 10 days’ food aboard. I just sat in the forest for a while, poked around the recently installed stoat traps and noted that one stoat and three rats had been caught. There are trap lines all over Abel Tasman now, thanks to the generosity of a single family. There are a few birds around but the insect/ flower life around could, I suspect, support a hundred times the number. It’s going to be interesting to see how the bird numbers change in the next few years.
The hut was empty, an early night for sure.