Another muesli bar for breakfast and a few sips of water. These are the choices when there is no water in the vicinity. Somehow with some rain pelting in drinking wasn’t high on my agenda.

Then, with the rain stopped I hastily packed up.

Only a few kilometres to the car park, with a short detour on the way to visit the Enchanted Lookout vista. Since my last visit, as part of Te Araroa, some trees have been cut to give a better view out over the Wairau Valley.

Gloom and rain was hiding Tappy, ie, Tapuae-o-Uenuku, but an autumny light illuminated the patchwork of vineyards more than 1000 m below. Blenheim was just discernible in the haze. Great to have a picnic table to sit out for a while, just to sit.

I spent the previous three nights in the confines of my tent, named The Coffin, where I was unable to sit up due to the lack of height.

My tent is light, 1.1 kg, and surprisingly still waterproof. I say it’s a surprise because I spent more than 50 nights in it when on Te Araroa, and at least another 50 nights in total since. I have to count them up. The outer fabric always has seen me through any rain as long as I could avoided touching. My experience in previous tents, I’ve had a few with extensive use, was the floor that generally leaked, and encouraged their replacement. But the main problem in my many months cycling across Australia was with worn, and then broken zips. I needed to keep those pesky ants out, or I’d have a fully uncomfortable time.

I found cell phone connectivity from my vantage above the Wairau Valley. Time for a round of texts, the last before I would get to St Arnaud I was thinking. The Goulter River valley was going to be a black hole for communication.

Since getting from the commercial pine forest into the Mt Richmond Forest Park two thirds of the way up the hill, the road had become progressively steeper, and therefore somewhat more rutted. I was starting to get completely sick it all, not surprisingly when I checked the time and found I had been climbing up the road for around 20 hours.

Yikes!! Now that was slow progress.

Eventually I was at the top of Staircase Road, able to see Mt Richmond in cloud, the ridge I climbed down, and much of the start of the road up Mt Patriarch that didn’t seem so far down, 950 m below. But my body was feeling the effort with the weight on my shoulders.

Halfway down from the Lake Chalice car park I finally found running water and quenched my thirst.

Drizzling somewhat, but I’d already decided on a few successive easier days. My body was feeling unmotivated, and somewhat hungry. No surprise after little dinner or breakfast.

Being immediately after Easter the hut was now empty of course, so I could hang all my wet gear out.

I ate a spare dinner for lunch, guess I hadn’t eaten it last night. And had some soups to catch up on. I drank quite a lot, without needing to relieve myself. Guess dehydration kicked in.

That mattress felt very comfortable so I tucked my feet in to stay warm.

Just going down to Mid Goulter Hut tomorrow because it’s one of my favourites.

Lucky I’m not on any particular schedule.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Lake Chalice Hut

they didn't believe much in outlook despite the setting  | Lake Chalice Hut, Mt Richmond Forest Park
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