Fortunately, the rain had stopped by 6 am, but everything was damp once again, except for the tent, which was soaked.

I really liked last night’s campsite. Comfortable, under some magnificent beech tree forest, not a bit lumpy. The sandflies were intense, however, so breakfast wasn’t entirely pleasurable. Porridge was eaten on a damp seat, but I had my overtrou and hoodie on to reduce the surface area exposed.

It was 10 km up to the hut. I followed the track, which had the usual up-and-down when you’re heading up a river. One SOBO had taken to the river to avoid the ups, but he was too far down to talk to. He clanked his two walking poles off downstream.

For some reason, I was exceedingly hungry at lunchtime, and with few nibbles, no cake, just cheese on the standard menu, I decided to cook up some rice and mushrooms. That made a surprising difference to my afternoon energy level. I managed to climb up to Martha Pass at almost 1700 m with no major issues.

Maybe this reduced calorific intake is starting to take a toll. I need to get something extra for lunch once I get to Twizel.

There is another reason for my powering along: maybe 50 years ago, some crazy guy built a 4WD road over the pass. There’s a dramatic slash across a massive scree slope where a bulldozer created a path that, while no longer adequate for vehicular traffic, is perfect for walking with a pack, and it started a km or so before Top Timaru Hut. Perhaps the easiest pass of that height I’ve ever zipped across.

As I headed towards the top of the pass, I met Dan, who had started at Cape Reinga. He’s another lightweight type. I felt strangely overdressed in my overtrou and raincoat, with boots and gaiters—well, it had just been raining again. His pack wouldn’t fit my food.

Still, whatever.

It looks like his fellow American, the woman last night at Pakituhi Hut, had walked my last two days’ effort in one, verging on 40 km with a couple of major climbs included.

On the other side of the pass, two more Americans shot straight past without much in the way of conversation. Then I came across a woman not so far behind who hadn’t realised the other two were just ahead. That makes four of them making for Top Timaru Hut where I had lunch. It’s only a four-bunker, small, so I hope no one arrives from the south. That’s five TAers today.

Then, the track drops 700 m down on the other side to this old musterer’s hut I’m stationed in for the night while things de-damp themselves. Tin Hut is old and dirty, but we are permitted to stay here, apparently.

Someone said they had camped outside a couple of nights ago because of the grime.

I won’t be getting many nights in the huts by myself, which means I’ll probably be doing a lot of camping. Luckily that sleeping mat is now doing what mats of that type are supposed to, ie, staying inflated all night.

Makes a significant difference to comfort levels when you are sleeping in a tent.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Tin Hut

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