Can’t say yesterday was particularly arduous.

Climbing Maling Pass on a four-wheel-drive track; a cross-country across the boggy terrain; sidling around Lake Tennyson until thwarted by matagouri, (I might have left a bit out there); wading thigh deep for half an hour in the warm lake water; then plodding up the valley on an old cattle trail through the matagouri.

All just typical off-track camping experience.

When I woke at 6 am the valley was clouded in, but some blue sky could be seen and I presumed, correctly, that would be burned off quickly.

Camping in the open led to large quantities of dew to wet my tent on the outside, and condensation on the inside. It seems reasonable to have a slow start to allow my tent to dry, and damp sleeping bag to air.

The campsite was an enormous amphitheatre with huge cliffs either side, and a couple of small waterfalls providing acoustic backdrop. The site was free of tussock, but with a thin layer of soil to hold my tent pegs.

Probably most significantly it had none of the car-sized boulders that were randomly scattered along the valley floor in close proximity, areas I thought prudent to avoid.

The sun came over the eastern ridge while I was eating breakfast, and all was good with the world.

I’m hoping to get away by 10 am.

The day’s task is easy: up the valley an hour or so, up over the Paske Saddle, not even a 600 m climb, and then down the other side to the hut. Yeah, that sounds easy enough.

The flat valley certainly was straightforward, while the second section, climbing to the saddle, was essentially just: Engage low gear. Keep plugging on.

The other side of the pass was not quite obvious. The first half was a scree slope turning into a much flatter tussock basin. Some cairns presented themselves, then when actually needed they disappeared, and led me away from the path of my original intention, ie, a beeline directly for the hut.

Instead, I scrabbled down steep inclines, then sidled, at times uphill, crashed through forest and emerged onto the valley floor that wasn’t all that easy going at all.

If you are going over the saddle don’t follow that path. Head straight for the hut at high level, and save yourself some extra skin.

Didn’t much matter, I had stayed about an hour on the saddle itself, contemplating the view down to the Clarence where the water had disappeared into the gravel despite flowing further up, and a few waterfalls in action.

At the hut was a daughter/father combo who had come from where I was intending to go, and much beneficial information was swapped. In fact we had quite a conversation about things of mutual interest.

At last I had met some of the members of my tribe, who spoke the same language of tramping.

We did go on a bit.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Paske Hut

Those hills are more ominous than it looks here. | Paske Hut, Paske River
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