Just as well didn’t proceed any further the previous evening, there were no more water points, unless I want to just lick a damp rock. And I might have missed the beaut sunrise, and the early morning view of the shiny snow of Taranaki popping up on the horizon. And the curl of Farewell Spit with some decent surf crashing in, barely visible except for the low level of the light.
I didn’t hurry, just like yesterday, just sitting in the bush for extended periods. Few birds at the mid-level but they started to increase in number as I ascended. A few bellbirds around, brown creepers more friendly but very flighty, tomtits and one adult robin. There was some parrot-like chattering that I couldn’t make out, and an unmistakable kea I saw flying around and calling, probably the same one well above the bush line.
Yes, plenty of climbing once again, sometimes steeply, mostly the usual clambering amongst roots.
Eventually I burst out of the forest, it had turned into a fair proportion of dracophyllum and a few newly painted snow poles showed the way forward. Cow Saddle was clear enough, but there was still some more climbing, 100 m in height to get to the highest point.
Then there was a short section, maybe 400 m, which would put many off, a large scree sidle under some bluffs, plenty of drop below, but mostly solid enough feeling with my new Meindl Boots. There was a rock outcrop to scoot around and suddenly there was Boulder Lake, the hut visible, the great granite side of the Leaden Range on the other side of the lake.
Just another hour to drop the 300 m to the water then a quick lake edge walk and I was in the warmth of the hut, the late afternoon sun beaming in.
And as happens in the hills a few figures were spotted following me. Four guys, around my age, had been marching up the hill behind me. It turns out two of the blokes had come from Auckland on the first flight south, an extremely early start to the morning, then scurrying up the hill in the standard seven hours.
I had taken two days but do I care?
Not at all.
It was going to be an enjoyable night.