I knew it would be a big day with plenty of undulation, and so it proved.

I left around 8 am, knowing I had a 500 m clamber to start. The forecast was for low cloud/fog lifting and then a fine day. That was what eventuated.

It was strange climbing through the dense cloud, very misterioso if not surreal, with the rock tors punctuating the landscape. Then about 10 am, it all lifted in about 15 minutes. I could see everywhere I’d come and much of where I was going in the latter part of the trip from an elevated vantage.

I watched as the three four-wheel drives from last night crawled up one hill and, an hour later, saw dots in the sunlight head up another hill towards Ida Railway Hut.

Once I was over the saddle, around 1450 m, all of that elevation was lost. The track on the way up had been sketchy as few use it there were no signs of recent four-wheel drives, just a lone trail bike. On the other side, the track was vastly improved, but a bulldozed track isn’t always easy walking, particularly when steep.

I planned on lunch at Miller Creek Hut, but stopped a while before at a creek instead. I did peel off to look at the old musterer’s hut with its dirt floor, and stone fireplace with corrugated steel flue. A mummified possum. It obviously hadn’t been occupied for a long while.

More climbing after that, then another big down to almost the Otematata River, where more sidling around was required.

Despite being in schist territory, the river had still cut a groove in the landscape, making the river very awkward to cross. I didn’t.

Around 5 pm, I started looking for a campsite, but a while later, I found a spot that hit my three requirements.

Flat. No vegetation. Near easy-to-obtain water.


The first night in my solo hiking tent in a while, since going up to Limestone Hut.

This campsite was similarly surrounded by matagouri and wild roses.

Just before I stopped, crashing around in the vegetation was heard, and two young stags popped into view. Surprise!

It was hard to see how they hid from helicopters in this very open country. Then, a leggy fawn followed, wondering what on earth was going on.

My tent was quickly put up. The sun was still. I ate dinner.

It was going to be an early night. Maybe even another eight hours of sleep.

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