For once I was hoping to rain so that I had an excuse for a rest day.

Instead there was cloud right to the valley floor.

Then I thought, maybe head to Lake Guyon Hut.

The cloud lifted, my spirits lifted, blue sky was seen and I plastered on the sunscreen.

I was thinking of walking down the St James Walkway as far as the Ada Homestead but when I saw the poled track across the valley had been cut with a lawnmower I went the more direct route to the Waiau track. That cutting made a huge difference from the clumpy/lumpiness of my memories.

There were a couple of four wheel drives down on the Maling Pass to Ada track but as I got close they took off. Then stopped for a while until I was nearly caught up, then disappeared for good.

When I got to the Lake Guyon turnoff I decided to cross the Waiau River and make my way upstream on the St James Cycle Track. Something about being able to make comparison of the state of the river from the flood days when I was through here a month ago.

Almost immediately a family cycled past, although someone stopped with a packraft on their bike, a rifle over his shoulder, and a sad sounding bottom bracket. We talked all things pack-rafting on the Clarence River, the state of hunting, etc.

Over my shoulder he spotted two trampers on the other side of the river, going my way. I would be having some company.

An hour later I was trudging past the car park where the family had camped and he came up to offer me lunch. It was Sunday, they were all going out, having spent the night camping at Lake Guyon where there had been another eight for Saturday night. Sausages with bread and salad, then a little bag of goodies to take away. Nectarine, mandarin, more bread, a venison style sausage, a chunk of cucumber.

And an hour sitting in a camp chair in the middle of the day, with more conversation about flying helicopters in New Zealand and New Guinea from the other bloke.

The other two trampers must also have stopped for lunch as they had gone by once again.

I stayed on the wrong side of the Waiau River, knowing there were some awkward bits of the track I could avoid.

Eventually I crossed back just before my day’s walking was done, after 5 pm. I met first one and later another guy striding out towards Anne Hut, around 27 km away. Couldn’t stop, they each had to charge on. They had come over Waiau Pass from Blue Lake and for some reason felt the need to do two of the longest days on Te Araroa in one. Actually one had come from West Sabine Hut another three hours on.

I pitched the tent, and later the other two trampers, a Dutch couple I discovered, turned up.

So, no rest day, and Waiau Pass tomorrow.

The weather is cloudy but hopefully it will be good for the crossing.

Yay! I scoffed at my booty for dinner.

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