The slog back through the ferns once again.
The thing about this day’s walk as you know that when you finish this particular day, it will be very much easier walking for the final two days.
That doesn’t always help with the immediacy of the bog while it’s happening.
It varies from the Rakiura bog. It’s pretty unrelenting. It just goes on and on. Stewart Island has bursts, but they are generally fairly short. Not on the South Coast Track between Waitutu and Wairaurahiri.
No question this track has some great mature podocarp forest to trudge through. With fern understory, and limited undergrowth. Then a big rimu or rata tree.
Leaving at 9 am I knew I had reasonable daylight, and a lot less food in my pack than when I arrived.
Now Day 10, I’d lost a week’s weight of food.
That meant the last stretch didn’t have the same time pressure as when I went in the westward direction.
I arrived at 5 pm to a warm hut, and some conversation from a solitary inhabitant. A volunteer checking the traps on the way back to the car park. She had come down the river in the jet boat.
I sensed the use of the track by Godzone competitors back in 2018 did major damage to the track. The 100 groups of four not caring much where their feet went, and really churned it up.
Nowadays, gaiters and overtrou are really useful, as well as sturdy boots to deal with the mud and water.
Is it worth it?
Not for everyone.
There’s a story in the Wairaurahiri hut book of a French couple who stated that DOC staff back in the office in Invercargill had told them that “the track was flat”, true, and “it’s nice because the last hut is in a cave”, sort of true.
One of them wrote “I have probably hurt myself for all my life just for a stupid track”, due to blowing a whistle loudly for an extended period of time and hopefully only temporarily deafen herself. It’s not like there are many other trampers out there.
Also, “It’s very exhausting and you are tired, you can easily lose your way.”
“You can easily fall a lot of the time in the river.”
“It’s muddy everywhere in the mud, and it covers you entirely.”
No, just your lower half. That’s why you wear gaiters and overtrou.
So coming to the South Coast Track after walking the Abel Tasman to gain your experience may not be the best preparation.
No question it’s hard work, even for a flat track.
It’s hard to speed through the bogs due to their depth and frequency, but it would be possible to waste a lot of time if you don’t have confidence and continually strive to make progress. Hesitation will make for a very long day, for a stretch that is long enough already.
Do your research, and come well-prepared.
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