I could have, maybe should have, gone further but I kinda like the almost phone box sized bivvies, 2 × 2 m, and this one is close to new.

Judging by the hut book most people heading east from Belltown treat this as a lunch stop on their way over the Little Wanganui Saddle, the next shelter at Stag Flat is only 2.5 hours away according to the sign.

I’m in no hurry, I’ll have a closer look at the hinterland here.

The weather: a few showers, the bush is well wet but the two creek crossings were way down. I’m staggered around trying to keep my balance on the slippery, rounded, mossy or lichen clad rocks, that’s both in the creeks and on the track, finding that my lack of flexibility and agility due to my advancing years means I take things slower these days.

But isn’t it good just to stop in the bush for ten minutes every now and again, listening to the river sounds mostly, a few stray birds, the wind, not much in that department today, and soak in the atmosphere. The West Coast bush is much more diverse than that in much of Nelson Lakes, rimu around, rata, although that’s often dead, killed by possums over the years but there’s plenty of kamahi, broadleaf, even a few native fuchsia which shows that the poisoning program with those marsupials is having some effect.

The strange thing is the ringbarking of a few broadleafs by goats, apparently there’s a few around, maybe a few less after this week, the hut book mentions people having seen them but I didn’t get much of an idea from the goat cullers last night, they are apparently just examining the problem rather than dealing with it too vigorously at this stage.

Looks as if I’m back on my own tonight, I’m in the clouds, the hut is cute, at this size at full capacity two people would want to be friends, it’s a fully insulated version, polystyrene sandwich construction, ie, aluminium skin both inside and out, a sealed box with a large issue with condensation, and with these confines you have to cook with the door open to avoid self medicating with carbon monoxide.

The immediate issue is the water supply: the hut book mentions a creek nearby, but it turns out to be quite dry, a black poly pipe also waterless, it’s unattached, just lying in the creek, another creek 100 m away in flowing but carrying an open pot cross country was a test, it’s not a well beaten path, not at all, seems virgin forest as you head towards the noise, plenty of obstacles, in the end when I needed some more fluid I just went back to the Little Wanganui River, actually just a stream up here, this time requiring the negotiation of a five metre drop.

All in all I’m happy ensconced in this little shelter, dinner, some delicious spaghetti, is just about ready and it will probably be a rather early night, cranking up my little tranny for entertainment when the sun goes down.

Yeah, cosy as.

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