After yesterday’s short wander and a good night’s sleep, I was up early for a big day.

I set the alarm for 5 am but woke an hour earlier to give me time to munch my porridge leisurely.

The temperature outside was surprisingly warm. So quiet at that time, except for the river’s burble in the distance.

I’m a fan of Kākāpo Hut. Despite being 65 years old, it was very well-preserved and well-renovated. It does lack windows, with one small one at eye level and another high in the gable, but it has a large clear LaserLite skylight that gets good light during the day.

Not that I needed the skylight, as I was away at 6 30 am, ie, in the dark, with my headlight on for the first half hour. I was quite busy to the end of the trap line, trimming stray foliage across the track with my secateurs. It was not quite as well marked as the route into the hut, as it only had sporadic pink DOC line markers, but they were mostly enough to find my way easily.

I seemed to make good time and reached the end of the trapline after two hours. Then was around three hours of crashing through the kamahi forest, sometimes on a dry braid, or along clear sections, but occasionally up and down and into the kind of predicament that made me question my decision-making.

The river was suggested in the website notes, but the rocks were slippery, moss-covered, and unmanageable in the gorge, so the trees seemed the easier path.

Just smash on.

Right at 12 pm, I made it to the start of the climb to Kākāpo Saddle, which really is a slow uphill sidle.

I had marked the map where I thought the climb would start and hunted around for markers at the bottom. Somehow I thought the slope looked climbable, through fairly open forest, and after about two minutes discovered the very well-marked track.

It was only 250 m ascent to Kākāpo Saddle.

That really was the most enjoyable part of the day, although everything to that point was fun.

I like a Little Adventure, so that it may be the best day tramping for a while, maybe even since Roaring Lion Hut last year.

Once over the saddle, it was mostly downhill, often on virgin sphagnum moss. Too few boots to date to smash out a track, although it was more discernible on the ground the further I went down.

The highlight of that stage was seeing a dracophyllum growing at the base of a mountain cedar.

Eventually, I was on the Wangapeka Track and was surprised at how overgrown and in poor repair it was. Once upon a time, it rivalled the Heaphy Track for patronage, but I’m going a long way back.

To be honest, I’d been going nine hours by the time I did hit the Wangapeka, so I was feeling less frisky than usual, particularly after waking at 4 30 am.

Just on dark as I made it to Taipo Hut and was pleased to find I had no companionship for the night, and in fact, the previous residents had stayed more than a week before.

I slept well again. It had been a day.

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