I always planned to have a couple of nights here.

The hut is ten years old so it’s an efficient design, apparently ten bunks now that I count the mattresses but as is the case these days they are just on two communal levels. There’s a table in the corner where you can perch and look out to the view up the river, now called the Karamea, through two large picture windows, almost clean.

Out the front is a thick trunked silver beech tree with a large square platform/seat/seat beneath, and nailed to the that trunk is a recent 8 point set of red deer antlers, I guess that’s about as good as you get these days, ie, if you prefer to kill your animals.

A cool and occasionally sunny day, I do the typical day-off-at-a-hut things, lie in and listen to the news from the comfort of my cosy sleeping bag, collect a heap of wood that’s not rotting for a fire tonight, plenty washed up along the riverbank, it’s wet but it will burn if I can get some sort of fire raging in the firebox, chop it to length using the blunt steel handled heavy duty axe, bludgeon would be the word to describe it’s use, cook up lunch and later, go for a longish walk down towards Thor Hut to check out my means of egress from this hut.

There’s three options: over the new suspension bridge I came across yesterday, that’s 15 minutes upstream and then you have a shady forest walk back on the other side of the river; or, cross the knee deep river just outside the hut and cut off any backtracking, the river is currently shallow enough to splash through; or, where I went today to check out the third option, the direct route, head out on this side of the river for 20 minutes on a reasonably defined track over the grassy flats and cross downstream, only ankle deep and there’s a pebbly bottom. That’s my preferred option tomorrow morning if there’s no rain, instead of the extra time in the forest you wander over open river flats, grasslands, and take in the views up and down the valley.

It’s part of the country that is still recovering from the huge slips caused by the 1929 Murchison earthquake, NZ’s largest shake in the last 100 years. Plenty of material loosened from its hold on the hillside and made its way to the valley floor. It must have been a considerable churning of the landscape.

There’s also a big view up Kendall Creek, the standard issue U shaped glacial formed valley.

The fire’s on, but it’s early to bed once again tonight.

Tomorrow I’ll traipse down to the next hut in the valley.

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