A merry hut with that fire going last night.

My memories of the next section of track were of a casual wander around the 100 m contour through some great forest.

At least I found I had the botanical aspect correct. It was, however, mighty rooty. That means it was slippery. Living tree roots massed across the landscape, any soil being removed by years of tramping boots, combined with heavy rain.

I was on the lookout for kiwis, but while I heard them moving around, none were spotted.

The drizzle didn’t matter much in the forest, but at one stage mid-afternoon the gloom was such that I was thinking it must have been an eclipse.

I was still some distance from even Lucky Beach when I ran into Kreig. He had discussed the big days coming up with the older couple who mentioned some head torch work on a few of the days. One had taken 12.5 hours, not the 7 hours suggested by the signage. He had decided to finish the circuit some other time and had turned back. We chatted for five minutes, me agreeing on his sensible decision before we both realised we had a lot of work to do before getting to our respective huts.

And that was true. I had thought 1 pm would be good for the beach, then 2 pm, but as it eventuated I was off the other end of the beach only just before 3 pm.

I sat in the forest a few times, listening to the radio as the first news of the covid community outbreak was released. I thought I would listen to the 6 pm news conference when the Level 4 lockdown was announced.

Darkness fell, and an hour of head torch work was required, but the track had improved greatly. It also helped it was downhill.

I had announced to the other two heading in a similar direction who had caught up on my day off that I was unlikely to appear before 5 pm. When I arrived at the hut an hour after dark they were starting to wonder if I’d turn back due to crossing one of the streams that have been up and approaching the technical term “gnarly”.

No. Just too much time looking for kiwi and not being too busy making haste.

The two had the fire going, and that was certainly appreciated. I must admit I was quite damp. Soaked even.

Oh, for a warm hut, a delicious dehydrated dinner, and some friendly companionship before dropping to sleep.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Yankee River Hut

Yankee River Hut, North-west Circuit, Stewart Island
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