That little mossy knoll in the forest was a perfect campsite. Soft sleeping.

No one else around.

I slowly packed up while eating breakfast, and watched a little peloton of four trampers crack on down the valley looking insectivorous with their twin long walking poles clicking in action.

I left not long after they were out of sight, crossing the Waiau River that was just on ankle deep.

Not long after that I was plodding up Maling Pass.

Great weather again.

Two mountain bikers came down the hill on the Saint James cycleway route, having left from Jacks Pass, St James Station for quite a vigorous circuit. Later I met another two.

Five four-wheel drives were heading the wrong way, ie, downhill. Not much help to me.

There was still an hour from lunchtime when I hit the top of the pass, and shortly thereafter did a cross-country direct to Lake Tennyson through the swampy tussock. Strange to have lunch looking across the lake to where the motorised brigade were camping, with cars coming and going, leaving plumes of dust from the dirt road.

A four-wheel-drive track started through the forest, but it didn’t take long to become just a goat track.

No worries. I can follow vague tracks.

The forest finished, and I was once again out in tussock, cruising along climbing above the lake.

Eventually the matagouri, a sharply spiked bush, closed in and I decided to descend to the lake. I thought I’d be able to rock hop my way around.

Well, that was fun, dropping steeply through various batches of prickles to hit the water. It turned out no rock hopping was available, but I waded thigh deep for half an hour or so on a good gravel bottom. The water was warm and I almost went for a swim, but there was no place to leave my pack until it was too shallow, and somewhat weedy.

The top section of the Clarence River was impressive with huge ancient rock falls across the valley, and newer car-sized boulders out in the middle of the valley.

I continued up until I found a suitable camping spot, ie, not lumpy, no boulders in close proximity, and somewhere I could put my tent pegs into the ground.

In the end I made it about as far as I was anticipating without much issue.

I should sleep well tonight.

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