Back at Old Man Hut. I have stayed here five nights now on various occasions, equal with Hunters Hut on the Alpine Route.

I have more affinity with the huts with plenty of light: Old Man, Mid Goulter, Hunters, Red Hills, etc. Not as enthusiastic for the darker more claustrophobic huts: Mid Wairoa, in fact, most of the unmodified NZFS S70 type huts.

And it’s good to have a night away from the Te Araroa people. They are mostly high-calibre, filled with happiness and energy, dreams to share.

But to have some solitude for a change, particularly when dog tired is a real pleasure.

Just me and the cheery birds this morning, no sign of the goats, only their scattered droppings.

Actually after the energy expenditure of yesterday, today was slow going. I knew I only wanted to get to Starveall so no great hurry. I could sit around and appreciate my surroundings.

It might be the first day of autumn, it was the best day of summer.

A few minor clouds but exactly the type of day you would wish to have when presented with extensive views.

From Old Man, 1511 m, I could see down the Wairau to Blenheim, cloud haze over Cook Strait but the hills around Cape Palliser were clearly visible. Tapuae-o-Uenuku, 2885 m, and Mt Alarm, 2877 m, to the south. Looking up the Leatham valley, the bottom part I hadn’t walked in January.

Later it was everything to the west.

It takes effort to get up here, not just the physical effort, but the allocation of time and the decision to come up. I felt I might as well make the most of it.

I kind of think I might never come back, so I should take the time to experience the place rather than run on through to the next destination to tick off on my itinerary. At this moment I have no inclination to be anywhere else.

That could be a philosophy of life.

But it’s taken me decades of scurrying hither and yon to work this out.

Embracing the mundane: making breakfast, walking, putting up the tent, etc.

Learning to successfully function in an always imperfect world.

Except I recognise that for me this is indeed a perfect day.

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A guide to the night’s accommodation: Starveall Hut

Starveall Hut, Alpine Route, Mt Richmond Forest Park
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