I could, maybe should have stopped in civilisation for longer.

A few hours proved sufficient to ingest some quality food and charge some batteries.

I could have washed a few clothes, or myself, more thoroughly than I usually managed, but the reality is that I will be back to my standard sweaty self within 24 hours.

I trundled down the hill, Bushline Hut is immediately overlooking Lake Rotoiti and St Arnaud. The track is great and a full workout for the quadriceps and knee joints.

At the bottom, out on the gravel road, I was soon picked up by an engaging and cheery woman who whisked me into St Arnaud for my resupply from New Zealand’s, if not the world’s, most expensive grocery store.

Dinners, no worries.

Fuel, tick.

Breakfast, muesli okay, but no coffee or milk powder.

Everything seemed to be $5, and if it wasn’t, it was $10.

No fresh fruit.

My small bag of goodies was $78.

I had everything I needed, but not all I wanted. Kinda like life.

There are three café’s from which to pick, but I chose the more obscure option, one off the main road. It is spacious, has great food, fine coffee, and were happy for me to use their power points. That’s service I appreciate.

I dressed in my least shabby attire although had failed to shave for a few days. I caught my first close-up view of myself in the bathroom mirror. I have clearly lost weight and acquired a deep tan. Still smiling.

I charged a couple of camera batteries, also some for my GPS, well enough for days, and headlamp.

My pack was grotesquely bulging, and looking substantial as I wandered up to the edge of town to start hitchhiking the eight or ten kilometres to where I wanted to start walking. Cars went past in streams, but after an hour I was finally picked up by majorly tattooed Frenchwoman and her non-English-speaking boyfriend.

OK, so it was only that eight kilometres but it is a very much more busy road with the Kaikoura earthquake bypass traffic. And there were some major road works along the way.

Dropped off before 3 pm with just the two-hour uphill finish for the day.

As I approached the hut I wondered what the night’s company would be like. Five people, or on my own?

There were five Sobos, but four were going down to the road to make an early start on the not very nice road.

I would only have just the one other companion for the evening.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Red Hill Hut

Red Hills Hut, Alpine Route, Mt Richmond Forest Park
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