An early start, this is the biggest day scheduled for this island excursion, not so hard to get away before 8 00 am, although it was 7 58 am when I checked.

The day started with a 400 m climb, that’s okay. A few clouds today, around 300 m it’s into the scrubby stuff which means one thing: welcome to the claggy mud once again. Just before the top of Doughboy Hill, there are some big views back to the bay, there’s cloud forming over the Tin Range to the south and basically there’s low cloud whistling around my ears. Time for my gloves and second beenie.

The top is heathland for a few kilometres. It’s boggy but doesn’t receive the traffic of Adams Hill of two days ago, although somehow I manage to avoid most of the deep stuff. I take the high-risk, quick passage through, approach, dancing on the roots which are attached to a more solid substrate. If you lost momentum and picked and chose the perfect route there might be a fair extra time taken getting around these bogs.

My skip-through-the-bog method has one notable failure. I’m stuck knee-deep in the dank slime. Care needs to be taken to extract the limbs without full dislocation of my knee. There’s fair suction in the swamp but I remain with good fortune the remainder of the day.

My nine-year shelved memory takes a battering with the upper and mid-Rakeahua valley, somehow I pictured it in my mind as a pristine wander through fabulous mixed rimu forest, I recall long stretches of just moss and big trees but it’s clear things have changed from my previous visit: there’s more foot traffic, somehow I recall about eight people walking it in that previous year, looks like a few more now; and, the track had been widened, DOC has cut back the vegetation the full 1 m either side of the centre of the track, all those crown ferns eliminated, unnecessary and overkill eliminating much the charm of what I regarded, in my mind, as one of the more attractive strips of forest walk in the country. Oh well, maybe my memory was just playing tricks.

Overall a good day’s effort although enthusiasm waned in the last hour, back in the boglands and, in the last k before the hut I manage the day’s biggest dive, half thigh deep, seemingly bottomless, somewhat stinky, not a great advertisement for the Southern Circuit.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Rakeahua Hut

Rakeahua Hut, Southern Circuit, Stewart Island
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