You are out in it a lot when tramping, but in Marlborough, when in those extensive grasslands and no beech tree within a day’s walk it’s full exposure.

Yesterday was full sun, and I acquired a narrow band of colour between the top of my gaiters and the bottom of my somewhat long shorts.

Today? Storm warning.

Well, it’s clouding over and rain predicted in the afternoon. Also high winds later, although currently it’s calm.

The hut is exposed to the wind and shakes on the piles from the strong gusts. No, not earthquakes. Probably.

The surprising news is that I finally worked out a plan. And it has a remarkable consequence.

Over into the Gordon which takes me to a four-wheel-drive roadend. It’s 38 km down that track to the highway, but I then want to go up the Leatham River and over Severn Saddle, down the Severn, that’s due south, to the Sedgemere Sleepout on the Rainbow Road,. Then I hope to hitchhike to Maling Pass and drop into the Waiau River, not to be confused with the nearby Wairau River, to the new Carolyn Creek Hut, then on to the St James Walkway, coming out at the Boyle River Village.

That consequence?

I can cut out the complete St Arnaud to the Lewis Pass leg of my summer, and get back on track with this Little Adventure.

I have food and fuel for another week. Just have to hightail it.

Not quite as easy walking today due to the lack of major cattle tracks.

Here’s an issue. The thing is that you are required to get a permit from DOC to go up the valley. Except, not easy to obtain when you only find out about that requirement once embarked on the walk. As it turned out there were no cattle in the valley, oh, there was one lonely heifer.

Lots of rock hopping, gravel and tussock bashing.

Saxton Saddle was a short rise from the wide valley floor, just a climb of 160 m or so.

On the other side it went down steeply, speargrass lurking for the unwary, various scree encounters of the dusty variety.

And then, a mountain beech, in fact the whole forest.

The beech was on the left hand side of Gordon Stream. On the right was a strange sight, the mixed forest of pine of some variety and Douglas fir. Mature trees.

It’s a big issue, these exotic trees, prolific seeders, the tiny winged seeds fly for kilometres, and then get established easily enough. There is not enough human resources to stop the onslaught of the conifers. Those three major attributes, prolific seeders, good dispersal mechanism and hardy species is a recipe for the replacement of the current Marlborough treeless vegetation over the next decades.

Company for the night. That’s a pleasant change. This will be the first night on this leg that I’ve had to share, a week so far with the huts all to myself.

Could do with some conversation.

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