After a bright afternoon yesterday, I had more hope for this morning. No gloom or mist on the hills, however drizzle was apparent in the distance. It still hadn’t rained in the last 24 hours, so that was a plus. Time for any floodwaters to drain.

And so, it turned out. Mostly.

This is, of course, the fastest and easiest tramping on the North West Circuit. 15 km or more of flat terrain for once. Except, yesterday was 20 km of flat soft beach, and my body was feeling it as I found out.

Parts of the track were still under water, and others are quite muddy, but there was almost no place to sit down for a break, so I just trudged on.

That misty drizzle fell, and that also encouraged movement.

I’d had a 9 am start, so with the mud festival, it was after 12 noon when I made it into Freshwater Hut.

The sign at the landing stated a big five hours to Freds Camp, so after some turnaround time to have lunch I realised I’d done my dash for the day.

Out in the open, the drizzle had been more noticeable and I needed my peaked hat to keep wetness off my glasses. My coat was soaked entirely through, and I was cold.

That’s just explaining why I didn’t proceed to Freds Camp.

There’s always tomorrow.

Actually, I heard a long-range weather forecast and it seemed reasonably promising for quite a few more days.

I changed to dry clothes and jumped into my sleeping bag to finish a book, and warm up.

Confession time: Freshwater isn’t my favourite hut. People often arrive by boat, and leave the same way, and only need to stay here due to inconvenient high tide times.

Then us unwashed and haggard lot on the North West Circuit cruise on in. By this time we don’t usually skirt around the mud. Faster to take a chance on the solidity in the middle of the track. Usually works, unless it doesn’t.

So, we are well coated with muck on arrival.

Some of the boat people I’ve met here are quite unprepared for conditions underfoot. Sandshoes, as if it will be Great Walk quality track to Masons. Well, it isn’t.

Once I met John Hall-Jones here who wrote a book of Stewart Island history. Living in Invercargill he had traipsed or paddled around all nooks and crannies of the island.

I kinda feel I’m getting a little like that myself. Helps not to hurry between huts at times, and take the opportunity to do the sidetracks.

Patches of blue sky late in the day were encouraging, but as long as it’s not actual rain, I’ll give it a go to get to Freds in the morning.

It’s either that, or walk out.

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