A great night’s sleep, undisturbed by sandflies or possums. Except on a few occasions the rats used the framing of the hut as a racetrack as they chased each other around. The floor was a bit creaky despite the orange and chocolate carpet, or it might just be my bones.

Silence other than a few birds twittering, the distant steady-state drone of the river, and the flame from my gas burner as I made a slow breakfast.

Just a half day today up to the DOC hut, where I hoped to do some washing on yet another glorious morning.

It wasn’t so far, but my body was uncooperative. Not at all enthusiastic about the slow climb up the valley that proved surprisingly steep. It’s a four-wheel drive track that is little used but easy enough to follow.

I searched for a hut shown on the topo map, but it appeared it had been washed away when I stood on its presumed map location.

The valley was strangely silent in places, even further down, with boggy water along or across the track.

Crossing the river a few times ended up soaking my boots again, but eventually, I rounded a corner and could see the hut in the distance. It turned out to have been entirely renovated by DOC back in 2005. Having seen limited use it proved a fine place to stay. Fully plywood lined, including the floor. New bunks, stainless steel bench, ply table, and a little used woodburner. Nothing much to burn in the tussock landscape at 960 m, even wild roses have found other spots to live. The native matagouri was still around.

Immediately a rest day for the following day seemed obvious, after all, I had been marching vigorously for nine days now, when I included the time from Big Hut.

My muscles were sore, and weariness prevailed.

Having to climb almost 900 m to get up to the top of the Hawkdun Range would require a significant energy expenditure, although I could see the gradient of the zigzag four-wheel drive track out of the valley was not extreme.

A great drying day. I washed my socks and dried my boots, but as I was staying the second night left my quick-drying shirt for the next day. I realised I hadn’t replaced my blunt razor, so I didn’t have a shave.

I was the first person at the hut for a month, so maybe I’d have the place to myself.

I could cope with that.

Plenty to read on my phone.

A strange place to choose for my summer holiday, some might say, but I was pleased to be there.

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