In the morning I found there had been a latecomer to the hut last night.

I hadn’t noticed because I’d been listening to the radio with my earphones and, so he can’t have made excessive noise, or shone his light around much.

I was up before him for a nature call, but after a brief discussion as soon as possible was sufficient light he was off, intending to make it all the way up Mt Fell. I thought it was a sufficiently huge day from the river, a big 8 hours, but he additionally had to drop 600 m from Rocks Hut down to the Pelorus. He would have an extra two hours to his day by the time he spent some time mucking around at Middy Hut.

Man, it was starting to get dark by 5 30 pm these days.

I had a different approach. I sat around until 10 am drinking coffee and admiring the perfect day. Not a cloud to be seen.

I was off to Roebuck which involves most of the drop down to the Pelorus, then sidling upstream for four hours, according to the DOC signage at the track junction. However, before I made it to that sign I ran into a guy who also just come down from Mt Fell, the last 1.5 hours in the dark last night. He had given his car keys to the guy from last night, who is going to drive his car back to Nelson.

Looks like everyone is/was heading for Mt Fell.

Shortly before the sign at the turn off I met a woman who had camped before Captain Creek and was going to finish her day at Rocks Hut. After that she was making her way to St Arnaud.

The afternoon was spent meandering high above the Pelorus, crossing two large tributaries which would be impassable during heavy rain, but simple enough to hop across a few days after.

At the hut there was little evidence of recent inhabitants. Well, there had been two weeks of rainy weather since before Cyclone Debbie and Cork.

I like Roebuck Hut. It’s been painted inside and out, and a new stainless steel bench installed. It’s well situated at a significant junction of rivers, and I note that the pool just downstream has been substantially filled in since my last visit last Easter.

Oh, I’d also visited immediately prior to my Te Araroa excursion. On that occasion I’d climbed to Mt Fell, then went across to Richmond Saddle Hut, via Mt Richmond, then followed down a ridge from Grassy Knob into the Pelorus not far upstream from where I was currently stationed.

I’m not sure if I’m fitter than last year, but I’m a few weeks later so I’ll have an early start. There is an 1100 m climb to the top of Conical Knob, where you meet the official track.

6 pm. It’s true darkness.

Anyway, no one else has turned up yet so I might have an early night. I know it’s going to be a huge day tomorrow, 1800 m of climbing. But fortunately the weather should remain fair.

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