The day unfolded as the light increased in the sky. Clouds formed and wrapped across the sky. All reflected in the inlet waters.
This must be one of the great sunrise huts in New Zealand, facing almost due east, and the water laps very close.
The hills around Patterson Inlet/Te Whaka a Te Wera encircle the water.
By the time the sun rose the cloud was much was more typically gloomy, but with some brighter patches to the south-east. Must be a slight breeze as a patch of still water is much darker where it reflects the hills.
I try not to think that I have to trudge right around to the other side in the next days.
Colours? Silver for the water and sky. Dark grey for the forest and the hills.
No direct sunlight yet to bring out the colours where green usually predominates.
Clouds are high. Maybe it will be a reprise of yesterday’s weather, but without the morning shower.
In the hut book a few have mentioned wading waist deep through the Freshwater swamp, and difficulty in track finding, but this is my fourth crossing coming up, and to date of managed to avoid most awkward moments like that. Plenty of swamp avoidance practices after the last two days walking.
Just the the hours to Freshwater Hut, but I’d managed to spin yesterday’s five hour tramp into arrival at 6 pm.
Today’s walk started with a hill climb, up to almost 300 m, and then dropping slowly on the other side.
Halfway down, making reasonable time I wondered if the once I could concentrate just on walking for the day, rather than spending my time dawdling. I still had a few days’ food aboard, but by pack had to be 10 kg lighter than when I set out.
I thought: if I make it to Freshwater by 1 pm, I might try to get to North Arm Hut instead. That meant I’d have the big day today, and just have a short stroll out to Oban in the morning. Actually I’d then be able to have much of the day in Oban.
On the other hand if I stopped short of Freshwater I have a huge day and arrived at Oban late afternoon, and not spend much time there if I jumped on the 8 am ferry.
I increase my pace over the relatively familiar territory. No more hills for a while, just the eight or so bogs to get across.
Everything went well, except for a few bog crossings I didn’t spend as much time as I might have surveying the best route when confronted with the wet bits. First one sock, and then the other got wet. Then I repeated the dose.
Well, what did I care? I had places to be.
I turned up at Freshwater about 12 30 pm, a man with a mission.
A kayak and wetsuit was hanging up, so someone was in the hut.
I stayed outside and ate lunch while talking to someone so that I didn’t have to take off those stinking boots.
It became apparent that I’d followed his name and distinctive writing in the hut books around the North West Circuit, although his trip had been in March. I could have stayed for further conversation, we had plenty to talk about, but I’d just be postponing my big day until tomorrow.
Still, it was 1 30 pm by the time I left.
This next section over Thompson Ridge was the worst around the North West Circuit from my memory. First climb over the 340 m ridge, then spend what seems a lifetime following around the North Arm of the inlet.
That sounds picturesque, and it is, that much of the time you’re climbing up and down over various ridges and streams of the steep sided hills. The tough bit is all the big fallen trees needed to be negotiated, crawling under, or clambering over.
Not much fun.
And there is also some time pressure with darkness now complete at about 7 pm.
The sign at Freshwater had stated 6 — 7 hours so I needed to seriously make up some time along the way. I powered along the track, and climbed up Thompson Ridge quickly. I had to get to the hut in 5.5 hours as my head torch was losing power after 13 nights use.
My plans were about to change.
On the top of the ridge I met Danny who I had lunch with about a week previously at Little Hellfire Beach. He said he was going to be waiting for low tide, when you could just walk around the mud flats and rocks quite easily on the flat to get to the hut. It should be out far enough by 6 30 pm.
We dropped down, and had a short bush bash to the shoreline. The tide was going out but we could make a start in the light. Lots of squelching in the mud interspaced with washing it off when it came time to cross the little channels.
Was that an octopus? Sure was.
Seems they get stranded by the big tides. I saw a few. I declined to stop to cut off an arm or two for dinner as suggested.
I have something else on my mind. The mussels were prolific on the rocks. It was just a case of working out where to grab some, so I didn’t have to carry them too far.
Eventually, well laden Danny picks out the steps to the hut, and voilà, there is.
I’m pretty wet up to my knees for much of the day, so they are well rinsed.
Two Dutch guys have the fire going, and they are quite surprised to see us appear out of the total darkness.
So, a big cook up with mussels, and one very tired body lurched off to bed.
Now that was very different kind of day what I’ve been thinking back at Freds.
A huge day by the way.
I walked from 8 30 am to 7 pm, and much of it at pace.
That sort of Little Adventure was why I came to the island.← Day 13 | Freds Camp Hut Day 15 | South Sea Hotel again →