You talk a bit about the weather when tramping: you’re out in it a whole lot.

The fine weather continues, the last three days in Westport have been, mostly, cloudless and yesterday in the high 20s. This, of course, can’t last, there will be a day, days, weeks even of reckoning but in the meantime I’m prepared to soak it all up.

I’ve restocked with food and fuel, and also some body recovery time after finishing a nine day Heaphy Track escapade, aided by the fact there’s no Saturday bus.

Today, a fine Sunday, a couple of hours zooming along in a Ford Transit minibus and suddenly I’m out in the Lewis Pass carpark reacquainting myself with the tarn, the steep hills and the view up Cannibal Gorge to Gloriana, I suppose, there’s still a few patches of snow up there being the southern slopes on view.

I’m starting on the St James Walkway, that’s around 68 km, much of it fairly innocuous, there’s a couple of low, flat passes to traipse over, then, after about five days I’m going to scoot down Highway 7 a few kilometres and start up over Harper Pass, another low pass in the Southern Alps, actually the lowest I believe, just under 1000 m, the only worry in the full twin trip is crossing the Taramakau River on the West Coast side, actually the last day, she can get up, so there’s more food than I technically might consume aboard.

It’s a benched track upgraded in the 1980s, err, actually 1980, as a low stress, challenging mainly in distance rather than anything else, serviced huts, which in this case just means they provide fuel for the fire, but it’s way too warm for that at the moment. It’s typical South Island beech tree forest, mostly red and silver varieties of the five species, ie, pleasant open woodland, the track just fine, not quite the road of the Heaphy Track I’ve just walked, this isn’t one for mountain bikes unless you prefer pushing, or, more probably, carrying your transportation.

Cannibal Gorge is gorgeous, a scenic river, the Maruia, and there’s plenty of flowering happening, most notably a profusion of white on the otherwise dark green of some species of hebe.

There’s even other fellow trampers, some heading out, a jovial crew of five women, man, why am I always going the wrong direction, then when I get to the second hut, ie, Ada Flat hut, — the first, the eccentric Cannibal Gorge hut, bunks three tiered, oriented away from the great view down the valley, overall not such a good feel — there’s a couple of blokes fully conked out on the verandah, they spent the day wandering up in the tops, I’m shown a photo of a scenic, snowy wonderland, ice on the tarns, their initial ambition to ascend some peak thwarted, although in retrospect it was doable.

They have the first New Zealanders on the 20 to 40 age bracket I’ve seen in any of my walks, well, at least since the Anzac Day long weekend and today’s group of gals. The boys have had to put in a fair level of organisation for their three day weekend, unofficial, a flight Wellington-Christchurch, driving up to the Pass, three hours, then, tomorrow, the reverse. They volunteered that they would never consider a Great Walk, that’s for the foreigners, which seems like the prevailing attitude to the age group except that most are unenthusiastic about the non-Great Walks as well, guess there’s just too much to do in the Big City, all those distractions like jobs, girlfriends, etc, which I am currently, and happily, I’m unencumbered by.

Warm and the weather good, at least now although the forecast isn’t so cheery, I might venture off some distance up the Three Tarns Pass route over into the West Matakitaki Valley.

Let’s see in the morning.

Day 2 | Ada Pass hut: a second night, this time alone →