For a while I imagined leaving my cooking gear behind at Bungaree. The bag that has my firelighters, pump, and Whisperlite burner. And my spoon, my only eating utensil.

The fuel was certainly aboard.

Having a complete lack of worries on a trip like this sometimes means inventing them.

But, no worries, when I arrived at Christmas Village Hut everything was aboard. After many years of preparing long expeditions I’ve learned to have a place for each item. And an order for packing. I could do it in the dark, or it seems, when half asleep.

My sleeping bag is always at the bottom of my pack with my two fuel bottles either side, initially balanced with my dense lump of milk powder. Food next, each individual dinner or breakfast inside a big dinner or breakfast bag with clothes packed around to take up any air pockets. Up top is anything I might need during the day, and my raincoat.

Three small compartments house any items that need immediate accessibility. The two in the lid have my hat and beanie, together with the day’s lunch. All my “useful” stuff is in the inside one: spare bootlaces, Swiss army knife, tape, etc.

That leaves the sizeable pocket on the back of my pack for my rubbish bag. I don’t ever have much to dispose of however, due to the use of Ziploc bags for most food, but there’s always muesli bars wrappers and soup packets to trudge back to civilisation.

I’ve taken to carrying a lightweight gas stove attachment to use if I find an almost empty gas canister abandoned in a hut, but I guess that is less likely here where you have to be more organised for a ten day walk.

On my travels over the summer I found I scarcely had to use my own fuel due to abandoned half full gas canisters in remote locations. [As it turned out I managed to carry most of my own fuel back to Oban. People had discarded significant quantities of gas, including a large full canister.]

I keep my head torch in my softshell jacket, along with some handy toilet paper.

Batteries for my GPS and cameras, and my power packs for recharging the phone are in a red bag. Toiletries in a blue.

I’m a well-organised bloke.

Except when distracted and the system breaks down.

Fortunately my robot/army style repetitive training seems to work even when daydreaming, or chatting to strangers.

I should have it mostly together since this is around my 28th more than week-long tramp I’ve been on in the last five years since my return to New Zealand.

All the same, I did manage to leave my boot inner soles behind this grand tour, fully rectified in Invercargill before embarking on the South Coast Track. No chance for the any replacements on Stewart Island/Rakiura, but I seem to have everything together this time.

It really helps not to be lugging a tent and sleeping mat. Huts come in handy.

Now daylight is here.

When you go to bed around 6 pm it’s easy enough to get up in the dark at 6 am.

My friend in the other room has a major alarm clock. Some marching music, the time shouted out, then more loud marching. That’s second time around, and still no movement so I’m not sure it’s effective.

He spent time last night trying to ignite the soaked wood that looked of dubious value to my eye. In such cases cutting the wood up finely is the only way to go, but he was working with another theory.

Rain at night, as is common here. I wiped the condensation from the inside of the windows to enjoy the view more. It really is a splendid location for a hut, looking back down the beach, and along the coastline to the south-west.

Now 8 am. Time to pack up and try and leave by 9 am.

I recall this as one of the mentally tough stretches because of the unrelenting up-and-down nature towards the end. But they have changed the DOC sign to state six hours, closer to the reality of the walking time, not the five hours that once was claimed.

Later, and in fading light I find myself finally sitting on my lonesome. Soup is being supped, and my de-hi is ready hydrating.

The last three trampers were making haste and didn’t stay here, so the last two occupants for a night were more than three weeks ago. Surprising all five were women.

Also strange to think I was aged 19 and sitting at this same table with six members of the kakapo search team looking for evidence of kakapo around Little Mount Anglem, and Mount Anglem. Kakapo had been found further south a couple of years before north of Port Pegasus, and ornithologists thought they’d better check the rest of the island.

[Note here that when I got back to civilisation I discovered there was a plausible explanation as to why kakapo had only been discovered in a relatively small portion of the island. I read a story about a boat that was taking a few kakapo specimens to Europe for some reason. The boat was delayed/damaged down near Port Pegasus and they had been forced to release the birds ashore. It always seemed strange to me that their presence was so localised. After all, they make very distinct trails and nests, and the area where they were found is quite similar and with the same vegetation to much of the rest of the island.]

The Christmas Village Hut must’ve been pretty new back then. It was so long ago that East Ruggedy Hut was built the following year.

That thought is starting to make me feel old. Also making me feel old is the idea of skipping huts.

I guess it doesn’t help progress when you leave after 9 am, and that I’m lugging a power of food and fuel on this grand tour.

Oh, yesterday I also visited the Christmas Village Hunters Hut at Christmas Village Bay, and the verdict: halfway to derelict. Okay, more than halfway.

Quiet now, other than waves crashing on the shore.

The up-and-down nature of the second half of the day means I should sleep well tonight. Time to pop into my sleeping bag to read a book I have picked up along the way.

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