The rain could come early, or late, but it started falling, ever so slightly. I pulled my raincoat over my head and lay there as it continued its nighttime patter.
Yeah, talk about wet, but at least it was generally warm.
I packed up early for once and started my marching. The rain was coming down and while it varied in its intensity during the day it continued for about the next 34 hours.
There was another thing.
It wasn’t long before I became bamboozled by my location. It’s thick bush, limited visibility, no landmarks, and the gloomy conditions meant it was hard to see where the sun was so I was navigating using my GPS.
Here is a cautionary note: when you are using your GPS out there in a hilly terrain you keep losing various satellites so the track as recorded by the GPS jumps around significantly, sometimes 10 or 20 m or more so I was navigating by compass. But that seemed not to be taking me in the appropriate direction, ie, where I thought I actually wanted to go.
To be frank this was the first time I’d actually needed to use this particular characteristic of the GPS and I’d neglected to inform myself about how to do it correctly. Actually later I found I did in fact have the technique right but I hadn’t done one important thing: calibrate the compass. Who would know that you are required to do that? I’d been using it on all my trips for almost 2 years and it wasn’t until lunchtime that I discovered the possibility of calibration which made direction finding a lot easier.
Anyway I devised a working method of travel. Point in what I thought might be the required direction after looking at my paper map and walk for at least 50 m to overcome the jumping around thing, and adjust my trajectory accordingly. Check every further 50 m that I was still pointed towards the hut. It mostly worked but I still managed to veer off a couple of times.
Humm. Rain was coming down all this time and for some reason I thought that I’d stop and put the tent up if I came across a suitable location.
It was slow going. In the afternoon, realising that I was still some distance to go to find the shelter of the hut I happened across a great open spot, not excessively damp, not likely to be flooded either and ended up stopping for a second night.
Yahoo! I could get the tent up. I’d had enough of the swimming through the scrub activity for the day.
It was still warm but I put on my driest clothes, which were not dry much at all, a woollen T-shirt, woollen hoody, soft shell jacket, beanie and Polartec long pants. At least I was out of the rain, eating some warm food, two serves of soups, my last Absolute Wilderness meal, nice just sitting the warm pot on my tummy to get some heat in my wet body.
Sleeping bag? That’s my beautiful down sleeping bag.
When lying in the rain the tent had failed to provide adequate shelter and my sleeping bag was completely soaked. It seemed to be extremely heavy and when I had rung the water out of it, my cooking pot has a capacity of more than 2 litres, it was almost full to the brim, looking particularly dark and evil.
Who needs a dry sleeping bag?
It wasn’t exactly cosy in my tiny tent but it was good to be out of the rain.
I guess there are some who may question the merits of this expedition, there is no track at all here, very few people do this walk, and there’s a good reason. It’s scrubby, so each step is pushing through vegetation, my pack not assisting with manoeuvring. Fortunately I am prepared with my leather gloves which has stopped my hands from getting totally scratched up, but my arms are looking like I’ve been fighting a bunch of cats all day.
The weather is bad in all respects other than it being relatively warm and in the clothing department everything that is not wet is in fact completely soaked.
It was absolutely pelting in.
But man, what did I care?
I wasn’t so far from the hut, I’d get through whatever vegetation was on the way tomorrow, the rain might even stop.
It wasn’t exactly what I had planned but it really was a Great Adventure.← Day 20 | camping near Kahurangi River tributary, Kahurangi National Park Day 22 | Ministry of Works Historic Hut, Kahurangi National Park →