There had been plenty to talk about with Joyce and much of interest about trapping and trampers on the Hump Ridge Track.

Work was afoot to improve the four-wheel-drive track near the long beach walk that would bring the start 7 km closer to Port Craig to cut down on the nine-hour first day. But track maintenance had been postponed due to it potentially becoming a Great Walk that would then be paid by DOC, rather than the trust that looks after it currently.

Pigs were a real problem in the area, but DOC wouldn’t agree to a pig shooting competition because the exact owners of the small portion of the land that was in a trust were unknown.

The track was probably going to get a major upgrade to Wairaurahiri, ie, mostly drainage channels dug, and a couple of extra bridges, and it could be part of a jet boat trip up the river to Lake Hauroko.

We talked on until 10 am.

The walk on this east side of the river is so much easier, but it is still quite a distance.

Joyce cleaned and baited her traps. One stoat was caught to Percy Burn, then one rat en route to Port Craig.

Man, that is so much effort for limited reward. We discussed this and she said the cost of servicing the traps on Coal Island in Preservation Inlet was $40,000 a year due to the requirements of helicopter access. They seldom caught anything there.

She was in the midst of organising a pick-up of plastic with a large group of volunteers on the West Coast beaches of Rakiura. Last time they collected 32 tons of various plastic items. All equipped and sponsored by fishing companies who provided much of the rubbish themselves, although much of the last lot had looked like it had come from the Fox Glacier rubbish dump that was eroded by floods a few years ago.

What a task! They would be back on the island in two weeks for this year’s cleanup, but I didn’t think would be around to Mason Bay by then. It should all be pristine to my travels.

After the recent rain, the track was quite damp underfoot. I found it was best just to walk straight through the middle of where it was submerged, as the sleepers and ballast from the railway provided a fair surface. In any case, my boots and socks were already soaking from yesterday.

Apparently, even the Hump Ridge track has this issue. If I paid so much to have a guided trip, $2000, and had to slosh through all that, I’d be reasonably annoyed. For many people it would take forever to negotiate the many bypasses of the worst bits, but even I deviated at one point.

No, it’s not Great Walk standard.

The Port Craig Schoolhouse Hut was again vacant, and even warm after a sometimes sunny day. Joyce had stayed at Percy Burn with her husband who had come to meet her.

Since I’ve been away DOC had been through and cleaned the hut up. Painted some bits.

I do enjoy having a hut to myself much of the time, although having occasional interesting company is great exercise for my conversational skills. Should sleep well, as it’s a long walk-out tomorrow.

Without 12 days of food, however.

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