Yeah, it turned out to be a quiet night, at least after the twin moreporks and squawking kiwis found something else to do.

Clear sky in the darkness when I finally got up, pre-6 am, having been horizontal for about 10 hours.

The idea is to leave early, and hopefully score another entrée of blue mussels for dinner, but for that the tide needs to be right.

It’s hard to believe that people once attempted to farm this infertile and wet soil. Well, they set cattle loose but it can’t have been much fun for them either. This would have been quite remote in the 1920s, with often grim weather, and plenty of sandflies at times.

The nine macrocarpa trees immediately outside the hut are the most prominent legacy, and the few old bridge piles remaining alongside the newer DOC bridge over the Rakeahua River. I guess the area that is now manuka regrowth was once cleared to allow some grass. The soil is damp, and the ground quite swampy.

The things people choose to do.

After a biggish day yesterday I’m choosing to head for Freds.

On Day 13 I’m getting to the point where my enthusiasm for tramping with its hardships and austere rations is starting to wane.

I spoke to the local guy on Day 9, now four days ago, and I shared a hut for the night 12 days ago.

Solitude is all very well, but now it’s getting time to reacquaint myself with the world.

I had those nine days on the South Coast Trail with little human contact immediately prior to this, and have now spent 19 days seriously walking out of the last 24. My body is feeling the strain, mostly in the mornings and evenings.

Hills don’t matter much anymore, particularly with the tide level going down in my pack. It’s lost 12 days’ food, and that has to be close to 10 kg.

My current thought is one night at Freds, another Freshwater, and then with limited food remaining just powering all the way out.

In a nice touch I decided to light the fire last night. A chainsaw had cut up plenty of manuka and I took some from the pile. I kinda feel I have some good karma from Doughboy and other huts along the way in the Firewood Department.

Matches? None in the hut.

I resorted to my second Christmas present from last year from a friend, a neatly wrapped box of matches that I had never needed until now.

Here’s the thing. They were in a decorative box, despite illustrations not always required when fire lighting.

Smile? For sure.

They had a picture of a red-crowned parakeet on the box. How’s that for appropriate? I’ve been hearing them on a daily basis, and seeing them now and again.

Probably my favourite New Zealand bird, almost tui-sized, ie, bigger than you might think, and Rakiura is one of the last strongholds of their endangered existence on the planet. Thanks gal. You must know me more than I thought you did.

Another five hour walk, except today I could say it’s only five hours.

More swamp to start, including one really bad section.

Rakeahua Hut is water taxi territory so few people walk the section. But even fewer bother with the crossing of Freshwater Plain that I’ll be attacking tomorrow.

As it turned out the bog lasted an hour and a half, and had its moments. Luckily from there the track gets into the forest, and is quite a lot easier walking, usually.

But despite a few drops this morning there’s been little actual rain since I’ve been on the island, or for that matter on the South Coast Track immediately before. Much of the bog was reasonably firm, except where it wasn’t. Only one spot where I went up to the top of my gaiters, but nothing managed to get into my boots. My gaiter/overtrou combo is working well.

Not much wildlife seen. Feathers of a dead parakeet, and half a rat. Some sign of kiwi, but none seen.

No surprise there was no one at Freds Hut, although that may be different at Freshwater tomorrow night.

The tide was low when I arrived in the late afternoon, and the blue mussels of been proliferating. Now that’s a great entrée.

I’m getting somewhat sick of my de-hi food even if I prepared it myself.

Also a little of my own company.

Thought I was smelling like a wet dog, but now realised it was more like a dead dog.

Civilisation can’t come soon enough. And I never thought I’d be saying that.

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