Last night in a fit of inspiration, and ridiculousness at the end of a couple of serious days walking, I loaded up my pack with chunks of rata driftwood at Duck Creek, and lugged them the 1 km up to Mason Hut.

That meant I could light a small fire, but using some dry manuka in the woodshed. About time I washed and dried out my T-shirt, etc, for a more pleasant start to the day.

And as there was no one else in the hut I could take a mattress into the kitchen, and make additional use of the warmth.

The second cloudless morning, ie, cool, at least in the direction I’m looking. Mason Hut has been extended to accommodate the kiwi seekers, and I spread stuff out on three stainless steel topped tables.

Ten bench seats. That makes for a longer than usual sweep of the floor.

Even my socks are dry, but unsurprisingly they are fairly crusty, so I might move on to my backup pair.

Dry feet to start!!

Life is just great!!

Here’s the thing with extended trips: Day 10, and there’s still six or seven days to go.

And because of the intensity of the track I won’t be feeling like it’s coming to an end, until I’m crossing the Freshwater swingbridge.

Getting over to Doughboy require some swamp circumvention, and getting down the other side of Adams Hill, just 400 m high though, takes you through a nasty combination of greasy tree roots, fetid bog, and a decent slope. I’ve had a practice session on that.

I guess that teaches you that things both good and bad don’t last forever, however long it seems at the time.

I generally take it slowly these days to protect my knees, where once I might’ve been at considerably more pace.

But with maturity I have come to appreciate the track more. What’s the hurry?.

Now just a case of leaving early to make the most of the daylight.

Kiwi called, male, at first light. I failed to go and investigate.

For some reason, considering it was strong daylight streaming into the hut, I became distracted by the hut literature and didn’t leave until after 9 am. Well, the sign said 6 — 7 hours to Doughboy, although when I thought about it at the end of my daydreaming, that was probably as big a day as yesterday.

A lot was just slogging down the beach.

That’s the theory.

I went up to Cavalier Hunters Hut to have an early lunch, it’s around 7 km down the sand. A big wodge of scientific reading matter interested me.

First, the accounts the original search for the kakapo after they had been discovered in 1977 in quite a small area to the east of the Tin Range. Another paper was on the geology of the island, and the third was on bird extinctions on Rakiura.

At the finish of looking at that it was nearly 12 pm, and way past time I should have been cruising up Adams Hill, 401 m. That’s the high point before dropping down to Doughboy.

The start of the track from the beach, at least through the sand dune area is starting to become overgrown.

I was thinking, err, just need to be at the top by 3 pm.

Much of the walk up, at least until the 300 m mark where you leave the forest and get into the scrubby vegetation is fantastic walking. Not so many walk the Southern Circuit. Most hunters fly, as planes can land on the beach at low tide.

Despite that, the top 100 m on either side, ie, back down to 300 m, is now well smashed up bog. Many find it easier to travel parallel to the track, with that shrubbery, waist-high manuka, etc, is very twiggy. Some will find that all challenging, and, further, not a great experience.

In the end I made it to the top just before 4 pm, spent some time just astonished at the great view. Strangely that’s now my fourth time over the track, and on each occasion the weather, and views have been fantastic. That meant that I could look back to where I’d stopped yesterday morning, a ridge now way in the distance. And where I’d had to get around the bluff 24-hours before.

The view to the south, well everywhere, was similarly extraordinary. But rather than sitting around for an hour I left after a quarter that.

I had around two hours daylight, and then a short period of grace before total darkness.

And yeah, I can confirm that the next section was a challenge. Jumping from bleached roots to clumps of tussock, trying to avoid the deep stuff. Agility is a useful attribute.

Eventually, down around 270 m the track dried out and was another pleasant stroll, but now with the thought of oncoming darkness.

As it turned out, it was after 6 pm when I made it to the hut. Despite the ease of motoring down the beach, and parts of the uphill this is not really a tramp for novices. The slipperiness of the roots, the giant steps to negotiate, in those deep pools of bottomless mud mean it is better appreciated by those who are fit, possess good balance, and can move like a monkey from perch to perch.

I was assisted by the lack of rain in the preceding week or more. And some experience of getting through the stuff over the years.

My first visit to the island was when I was 20.

Some people will find this all very time-consuming. Others will wonder what I’m going on about, the sections of bog on the Southern Circuit are different from that of the North West Circuit.

You were warned.

No one had been in the hut for almost a month.

Here I am in Paradise, and I have it all to myself.

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