Phew, today was somewhat of an effort.

A great dawn looking over to Mt Arrowsmith and then an hour talking to the DOC guys before I finally got away.

Blue skies once again and a big hill climb in a poorly marked track through big tussock clumps. No surprises there. It ain’t the easiest travel.

On the way up, I noticed I was being followed, and eventually, I was caught up by a couple I met on Day 24 when we stayed at Pakituhi Hut; well, in my defence, I’d stopped for lunch. They had spent last night at Manuka Hut and left early.

At the saddle, two young American guys showed up. They mentioned a third older guy, but something about their attitude didn’t seem quite right. Guess he won’t be so far behind.

The Swiss were almost catching back up, but it was easy going on the other side, the tussock thinned out out comparatively and that sure makes the walking easier. Eventually, you drop into the river, cruising alongside for a while. The river starts reasonably small and jumpable, but I’d recently read of 63 river crossings, and eventually, there was nothing else for it, so I took the plunge.

I didn’t count the exact number but it was certainly more than 20 crossings, 40 maybe.

Towards the end, I found myself just walking in the middle of the river for a bit.

At Comyns Hut at the main river junction, two American women were in residence, but despite it being around 4 pm, I wanted to keep going. The weather was now fully cloudy, much cooler, if not quite cool, actually verging on cold with those wet legs.

The Swiss couple arrived and also quickly decided to move on. Then the stray American guy appeared from nowhere, he had spent last night at this hut and being mapless, and perhaps clueless about following the sporadic snow pole markers, had become lost and had finally retraced his morning’s efforts.

“I got lost, and I don’t know what to do.”

I almost thought of suggesting that he go back out and prepare himself for the trip by buying a map and an emergency locator beacon, but he didn’t look like the type who would accept any well-meaning advice.

Instead, I abandoned him with the American women. I excused myself and raced as fast as my legs would carry me onto the next hut, just another two hours away. It’s gloomy, but I’ve been advised that there was nothing in it, it should all be cleared up by tomorrow.

At the hut, I could see two others heading south, and suddenly, there were five standing around at the tiny three-bunk hut.

No worries, I was definitely camping, and so was the Swiss couple, so it was sorted.

It felt like the biggest day for me, just concentrating on getting through tussockland and the few hours of boulder hopping.

The two guys coming south crossed the Rakaia River today in a not ideal place.

One had just begun his TA experience. For some reason starting on the other side of the most dangerous river on the whole TA. They had plunged in, you should know to avoid the blue water, it can be twice as deep as it looks due to the water clarity. There’s a whole bunch of braids, the deepest was the last, but when they staggered out, they discovered the joys of matagouri, the dense thorn bush that is often found in Canterbury river valleys, there is no way through that. They had to cross back, then find a place to cross where they could actually clamber out the other side. It seemed more of an adventure than many would be prepared to entertain.

I’ll be heading further upstream and will pick a more suitable location tomorrow.

Tomorrow is going to be one of my bigger days, but it won’t be long before I’m back into my known territory, back in the beech forest and with DOC huts at four-hour intervals.

Then to civilisation in Greymouth in a few days.

It’s time for a big food resupply and a general eating binge, and I have to say my boots are looking rather poorly. They seem to be turning into sandals with a couple of holes that I can put my fist into.

It might also be finally time for some better footwear.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: A Frame Hut

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