I might have started the day with the thought of ending up 26 km away at Palmer Hut.

After walking about a kilometre, that thought had left, and was replaced with another.

Forbes Hut, a mere 9 km away.

After the last few energetic days, my body was telling me something. Take it a bit easier. After all, I’d done a heap of climbing with a heavy pack.

My longest sleep in years was a hint.

Listening to the 7 am news in my sleeping bag was a first for a while. Definitely some tired muscles still.

Saw another stoat today, leaping across the farm road, and wondered what they lived off. Plenty of birds around, including bunches of Californian quail, but it doesn’t seem to be rat territory.

No evidence of the cat and kittens I saw at Warden Hut four or five years ago.

I like Forbes Hut.

Originally it was called Willows Hut, and was located two thirds of the way to Palmer Hut, but it was relocated by helicopter, and done up in 2006. The bunks were replaced by two sleeping platforms, and it has a long stainless steel bench, and a decent woodburner. Also a large veranda down the long side of the hut overlooking the Clarence River valley.

It gets use by rafters and four-wheel drivers, and that means it’s a bit of a dumping ground for rubbish and stuff no one can be bothered taking with them. Not so many trampers, although mountain bikers slog their way over Blind Saddle.

A fair proportion who stay won’t write their name in the hut book because $5 is apparently a rip-off.

Very few acknowledge the East-West Route that is really worth doing, with the Clarence River the main impediment. The three crossings required near here have a splendid gravel bottom, and aren’t too difficult at normal flows. However, the Clarence River can get huge in a hurry.

In anticipation of a regular flow of trampers to Sedgemere Sleepout on the Rainbow Road, Lake McRae Hut was extended, Saxton Hut relocated to be useful, and Severn Hut built. But the East-West Route surely is one of the most underutilised DOC tracks in New Zealand.

It does take a while to get used to the absence of trees in the Marlborough landscape, but the geological formations on show are spectacular, particularly the short gorge at the bottom of Seymour Stream.

Ain’t variety the spice of life?

One surprising variation this time around was a change to the flow of the Clarence River, which now has a substantial braid that cuts across and under some bluffs immediately prior to encountering the hut. I spent a while contemplating where to cross, and in the end chose a wide and relatively shallow, but fast flowing approach, over a bouldery bottom. Then I needed to cross back.

So, my day was only 9 km, and I really appreciated having a few daylight hours sitting on the veranda, contemplating life.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Forbes Hut

The hut is on a river terrace some distance from the river. | Forbes Hut (renamed Seymour Hut), Clarence River
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