In contrast with yesterday, today was business as usual.

Up early, ie, before 6 am, to ensure that even with my standard early morning dithering, appreciating the moment, I would be away at 8 am.

Today is the longest walking day on the island according to DOC, eight hours to Rakeahua, and I don’t want that feeling I had going up and down Adams Hill, ie, avoid arriving in the dark.

Once the hut at Doughboy has dried out it is a great place to have to yourself, or with a close friend I guess.

After my Tin Range adventure a few years ago I found myself camping outside the Rakeahua Hut with five people inside, then came here to Doughboy, and eight bunk hut to find full and with four tents up in the sand dunes. I camped under the broadleaf for three nights and enjoyed the company of quite a few people who recognised the merits of Doughboy Bay, or just being exhausted also stayed for two nights. Quite a few cups of tea were drunk as we examined the world’s and our own issues.

Huts aren’t so much fun, sleeping-wise, when at capacity, particularly if it’s wet.

While many come here now in the period from Christmas to Easter, the rest of the year has fewer. Like the month vacancy since the previous occupant.

This spell of great weather shows it can happen at any time of the year, if you get lucky. While I may not have had enormous luck in the big things in life, as seen by society, I have been lucky at times with some things within my control.

My coming here.

Not being a slave to time for long periods.

Maybe in the end that is at least as important.

But I haven’t always chosen the easy road in life.

Confirmation of that is the requirement to get over Doughboy Hill this morning, and who would choose that?

It’s a physical and mental challenge. No easy walking through the bog, and keeping on the track up there.

Body and mind are required to work together. The body part seems to be left out of the equation these days to a large degree, particularly in middle age where the pleasures of life are easily enjoyed.

Food and alcohol to excess.

Exercise, well, maybe tomorrow.

Much of the day, and evening pondering a screen. While sedentary.

Rakiura is the perfect antidote. A detoxification and peeling back some easily easy acquired behaviours. No connectivity since Christmas Village, and that’s now nine days ago.

Coming here helps with realigning life, and working out, often unconsciously, what is really important to well-being.

You realise you don’t need a whole lot.

Health. Vitality. Good relationships with people.

Sufficiency, so you can do the things that actually matter.

Man, so much philosophic enquiry down below the 47° S parallel. And being away from humanity for more than a week.

I went outside to take a clichéd photo of the candlelight glowing inside the hut, and had that magnificent Rakiura experience.

A kiwi strolled in to check me out, then started walking directly towards me. Its beak glowed silver in the light from my head torch. Startled when it realised my nature, it took off at a rate.

A few minutes later I went to the toilet and on the way back I had another, much longer encounter as it stalked its way along the track.

Yeah, I’m glad I came.

Today is cloudy for once, but it’s all high. I still see the Tin Range, but it will likely close in later.

In contrast to the exquisite weather crossing Adams Hill, I’ve had poor weather for Doughboy Hill. Except that first time, when my camera batteries had not been well nursed, and I was unable to capture the magic of looking over to the Tin Range with a shrinking of snow. Actually I was standing in knee deep snow that day, following cat tracks.

The kiwi encounter has been my dithering this morning, but I wouldn’t want to miss that.

A big day in the harness. I left after 8 am, but didn’t arrive at Rakeahua Hut until almost 6 pm.

I had my visual points of contemplation. The first is a lookout point on the way up Doughboy Hill. The view is of the golden sandy beach stretched out below, and the enclosing hills. With the sun over my shoulder it all looked magnificent. The sea was remarkably flat.

Another highlight was coming across two kaka eating new rata shoots. They were having a good time for Saturday breakfast. Mine had been more austere, just the heated muesli, and two cups of filtered coffee.

The climb up the hill was okay. 400 m doesn’t seem that far.

The weather wasn’t as gloomy as I’d imagined earlier on. Blue patches were seen. What was more important was much of the Tin Range was on display. Table and Blakies Hills, Mount Allen and even round to Point 637, and Gog and Magog. Plenty of memories from my trip down there almost 3 years ago.

The track over the tops wasn’t as bad as my memory, perhaps because of the almost two week drought. Not much rain since I arrived on the island, mostly in the form of drizzle more than a week ago.

Once I entered the forest the sun went behind the clouds, always the best way to appreciate the colours and textures of the forest without the bright contrast of sunshine patches.

That area of forest has to be one of my favourites are New Zealand, the top of the Rakeahua valley. The track is great and the area is well protected from the prevailing westerly winds. Moss covered much of the ground and some of the tree trunks.

Few walk the Southern Circuit so the track is not smashed out like on the North West Circuit in places. Oh, and it’s often a relatively gentle downhill gradient that makes for easy walking.

Of course once down near the river it becomes more swampy with the depth and stink increasing the closer the hut became.

I’d misjudged the time it would take from the bridge after the Rakeahua River, and was starting to become weary of the bog dodging by then.

The muck was relatively firm, but at one point the duck boards that had started to be seen, from a very old manuka walkway, didn’t advise there was a gap. Much was under the mud to be taken in trust.

“Mind the Gap”, I thought in retrospect as I disappeared up to my knee in the putrid muck.

Not the first to take the plunge that point.

But eventually the big macrocarpas could be seen, shortly thereafter an empty hut. A quiet Saturday night. Might be an early one after the day’s big effort.

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