Maybe I could have left earlier. Then again I had a marvellous campsite, and I need to spend time getting adjusted to a new day.

Maybe I should have stopped earlier. The last flat spot with water was at the hut, but I’d specifically been asked not to use the hut.

I could have, should have, just camped outside the hut.

Instead I perched on a somewhat sloping site and surrounded by considerable amount of bare rock that appears to have rolled down the hill in the recent past, in some instances shattering into many pieces. If you ask me, this is a less desirable place to sleep. After my experience at Warden Hut last year where a large rock was dislodged nearby by an earthquake I’m generally mindful of where I put the tent up.

Sometimes you just don’t have any choice when the hills are steep and is limited water around. And I really need to camp by water.

I had a day of walking uphill. Along a bulldozed farm track that went on 14 km or so as I wound my way up a saddle, drop-down, and then climb steeply to a second saddle. Good views back to Ferny Gair were on offer, and I could make out the route I had descended to Penk Hut. It sure looked gnarly and steep.

When I started the sun was shining brightly, so I loaded up with 2 litres of water. It all seemed an effort with the continual climbing. I noted that it was a one in 10 slope to the first saddle. Climbing to the second was steeper. I didn’t manage to get into a groove at any stage.

From the second saddle it was a steep drop down to the musterers’ hut — Flynn’s. It was 2 30 pm and so I marched on.

Not long afterwards the bulldozed track finished and I was on an old pack track. The countryside was reasonably open sheep terrain with manuka vegetation in the damper gullies. The trail sidled around a hillside and seemed obvious due to the sheep trails. After half an hour cruising I realised I had become separated from the pack track, and made a beeline for a little saddle where I could rejoin. Seemed hard work slogging up a hugely steep slope but from the saddle a clear trail could be made out, with the use of my imagination.

This time I plotted the route down to a couple of streams, and then when it went up to the next ridge. These were 200 m down and 150 m up the other side, vertically speaking. In the distance I could finally make out the higher saddle I needed to climb, 400 m or so with yet another couple of dips between.

I started looking for a flat spot to plonk the tent. At the second stream there was almost enough room to put up the tent and I shifted it around until I could get my sleeping mat relatively level.

Home sweet home.

Or should that read sweat.

I hadn’t come as far as I had anticipated but there was more than 1100 m climbing involved. It all kinda reminded me of the Motatapu Track near Wanaka. In this instance it was a similar rollercoaster, but with trail finding involved.

I would need a shorter day tomorrow.

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