When I staggered in after an 11-hour day last night, the view up the valley to Stag Flat was beautifully lit with the last of the light. Three old opaque Perspex windows in the living area have been replaced with clear glass, and it makes the hut a more outgoing experience than on my last visit. However, it’s still rates as “gloomy” with the proximity of the trees to the north.

The bunks are “odd”. They have to avoid the structure, which results in one lot being directly on the floor and others quite a climb.

I had free range, being the only occupant.

Another early wake-up call, but it took me a while to get going. No enthusiasm for movement, and my body was still quite sore.

I slowly made my way up to Little Wanganui Saddle, which isn’t so far, and then stopped for a long, leisurely lunch.

I found the descent slow due to vegetative growth over the track, which is not easy to negotiate when it’s so steep.

2 pm by the time I reached the swing bridge over the Little Wanganui River, with the sign stating it was four hours to Belltown Manunui Hut.

By then, the rain had set in.

Four hours of daylight left to tackle that obstacle course. Some delightful forest walking punctuated by sidles through overhanging fern fronds that worked like an automatic car wash. Handy for someone who hadn’t had a shower for a while.

I stopped to check my location, always mindful of the encroaching darkness, but I didn’t have anything to dry the phone screen and didn’t want to open my pack in the rain.

I just trundled on.

Once I made it down to the river terraces, travel was a lot faster, but nothing makes time pass more slowly than walking through a wet forest with a pack.

I had my head torch ready at the old hut site, but a few minutes later couldn’t find it when needed, and the last of the walking was done in the dark. I thought I must’ve dropped it, but later found it once I took my pack off in a pitch-dark hut.

But I soon had the fire going, which dried out my clothes. On my lonesome this time for the fourth successive night.

I was glad I didn’t stay at the bivvy where I had stayed in the past. At least once my walking was over for the day as I now only had a stroll out.

Four of the previous five days had been energetic, so I was looking forward to a couple of nights in civilisation before heading out again. Heavy rain was predicted for four days time, like over 50 mm. I guess I wasn’t too keen on tramping that day.

For now, it was a cosy hut, and the rain was really coming down.

← Day 4 | Taipo Hut