The great thing about this track is it gets easier as you come out.

Actually, it’s not bad in its entirety, except for that boggy stretch between the Wairaurahiri River and Angus Burn, and I didn’t find that much of an issue the second time around.

Yesterday was just plodding my way along the old tramway.

Okay, it was damper underfoot than my way in, but probably 40% of the old sleepers were in place. Just stride between them. They didn’t quite match my gait, the shorter people might find them perfect for their stride.

And then about the halfway point, at the Edward Burn viaduct I joined the Hump Ridge Track that is almost at Great Walk standard.

Too easy.

In the way life can be somewhat recursive I was fossicking about in the shrubbery taking more photos of the viaduct when two blokes popped out from Okaka Hut on the Hump Ridge Track.

Eerily similar to my previous time there except this time we were all heading the same direction.

I hightailed it, I had finally been able to apply Full Steam Ahead rather than squelching my way through the mud.

I was intent on investigating whether Mussel Beach was named appropriately.

My theory about the return trip seeming way easier and quicker was proving true.

Also true was the nomenclature for Mussel Beach.

Well, the beach part wasn’t, but the mussel part was. Large shells with small blue mussels inside, not at all like the enormous green-lipped variety. That would top up my protein and cholesterol levels.

An evening with a cosy fire, and some conversation. Quite different from my early morning solitary wander down to the mouth of the Wairaurahiri River, and a view to the distant Rugged Islands, and Solander Island starkly popping from the sea closer at hand.

But this morning I emerged to find the full starry, starry night on display. Patiently waited for 6 30 am to come around.

By the time I was eating my muesli, rain could be heard on the roof. Maybe just a passing shower.

That’s how it turned out the best day of the trip. I started off before 9 am and cranked out those final kilometres. Not often you get the opportunity to stride out on a solid track, a few minor ups and downs, not many slippery bits.

I met two groups coming in: a couple heading up to Okaka Hut on the Hump Back.

Then sometime later, actually quite a bit later, three young blokes that had Grand Ambitions. I said the usual jokes about meeting the guys just before they became famous on TV, suggesting they eat the short one first when it started to get tough.

My pack was light, the weather was good, the track firm.

A fine conclusion to what was a most enjoyable tramp.

← Day 8 | Port Craig Schoolhouse Hut—last night