I’ve had some big days in the last week, down from Larrikins Creek Hut to Lake Matiri, 19 km down the dusty road before being picked up by the milk tanker, 18 km Lyell up to Lyell Saddle Hut, 25 km Lyell Saddle to Stern Valley.
Okay, there’s been the occasional slack day, but I’m on Day 15 of this particular tour.
I planned some easier days to end, what’s the hurry, but it was mostly working around hitchhiking away once I reached the road at the end. I had no particular desire to be popping out in heavy rain that was predicted on Thursday. Why not finish on a drier Friday?
I sat around long after everyone had left, and that included three more bike riders who arrived all breathless and pumping with adrenaline from Ghost Lake, they sure loved that smooth downhill.
In the meantime I read the book about the construction of the track, starting building before knowing where it was going to be routed, with the prospect of a 85 metre high dam being built across the Mokihinui River Gorge. Two diggers working towards each other met in late October last year and it was opened on 14 December, the day I started this summer’s tramping season when I headed up to Holyoake Clearing.
Two years ago the area here was quite the wilderness, there was the remote four bunk Goat Stream Hut but otherwise it was more or less trackless.
The 14 km to Goat Creek was my main agenda for the day, but I didn’t end up leaving until almost 12.
There was a fairly significant 1929 rockfall to get across, actually wind back and forth in bicycle meandering style, with many rocks bigger than the Stern Valley Hut perched nonchalantly 300 m up a cliff.
Then the drizzle started.
I like the Goat Creek Hut, more my style than the newly built ones. It might not have the full amenity of last night, like flyscreens with mesh the sandflies can crawl through, but being built in 1957, and renovated in 2013, it has character in buckets, and you can sweep the floor straight out the door.