Woke early. Up early.

Even decided against my standard bucket of porridge, I’m sick of forcing down that early on, the compromise was a cup of coffee, can’t miss out on that, but for some reason the jet on the stove was blocked up somewhat, took forever for the water to boil but it’s okay to have a moment of quiet time before the onrush of civilisation.

Not much rain during the night, I’ve been expecting some sort of deluge, but the birds were singing and over the grassy area down below a couple of young wekas were running vigorously around, the mist low over those mountains on the other side of the valley, dampness prevailing.

I’m thinking of the river crossing but when I arrived it was no big deal, I tracked upstream a little, a gravel bottom, mid-calf depth, motor straight through.

There’s still plenty of evidence of damage from the major January flooding this year, numerous large tree trunks scattered across the valley floor.

Eventually there was a point with the river swung right against the dense forest, the usual track washed out, rather than a half kilometre bush–bash I elected another river crossing, then back again. There’s a few tributaries to plunge through, then round the corner and the Otira River, there’s an orange marker on the other side of this final river crossing, this could be just as gnarly as the Taramakau on its day.

Suddenly I’m out on SH 73, hugely wet feet, two weeks since my last shower, hoping for a lift, but it takes k or or two down the road before there’s a suitable place to lodge to really look for a ride.

Unlike at Boyle a few days ago a lift comes quickly, I beat the rain that comes past into town, Dave is heading for Greymouth, no concerns about my unshaven, unsavoury condition, he’s a keen tramper himself, dropped right to the door of my accommodation.

And so ends that almost two weeks in the hills.

The St James Walkway and the Harper pass route are not full-on, in your face, super magnificent scenery with the spectacular vistas of, say, Travers saddle, or around Anapai, or the nikau beaches of the Heaphy, or the constant but changing sea views of Stewart Island.

No superb highlights, instead it’s all somewhat low-key: the Cannibal Gorge swingbridge; the climb up towards Three Tarns Pass, getting stabbed by that pointy aciphylla: the paradise ducks, err, ducklings; Caroline Creek bivvy in all its tiny glory; Lake Guyon; the 1870s Stanley Vale hut still with some ancient paraphernalia; the spectacular and unexpected Stanley Gorge; the Waiau River crossing, well, that last one and then the even more heart-rate-pumping Henry River the next day; some snow in the hills at the Anne valley; the red beech forest around Lake Sumner; staying at Harper Pass Bivvy, seems I like the confined accommodations; the views around Harper Pass and, indeed, trudging down the bouldery Taramakau River . . .

Yeah, nothing much really.

← Day 12 | Kiwi Hut: there’s even supposed to be kiwis around