Another reasonable day in the office but I felt the after effects of yesterday’s major trudge.

Actually it was a big effort in its own right.

The walk down the hill, then a diversion up the valley, an hour each way according to the sign, in reality less, to Doubtless Hut where I was once based for a week when employed by the New Zealand Forest Service on plant and animal surveys one summer long ago. I could remember that hut well enough, the river crossings in particular. The hut is a typical NZFS six bunker, still with an open fireplace and canvas bunks although there were also now DOC standard issue hut mattresses wrapped in their heavy fire resistant plastic covers.

Not much point in hanging around, far too many sandflies, so lunch was quickly scoffed back in the forest.

Our task, back then, was to follow a compass bearing from a designated, supposedly random, point on the valley floor and every 100 m up the hill identify every plant in a 20 × 2 0m square and hammer a tag into any tree large enough to whack a nail in, measure the diameter, etc, and proceed to the tree line. Then we often walked to the ridge, me and anyone else enthusiastic, often two of the four would retreat to the bunks for an afternoon nap.

I was the hammer person from recollection and had the best botanical knowledge, others less proficient were the scribes, they had the advantage of legible handwriting. I was also a bird expert, on a very limited training, listening for birdcalls. I was okay on the number in the five minute timeframe, not at all good of the accurate identification, having failed to discern differences between the most common species, grey warbler, brown creeper and the chaffinch, all our reporting, however thorough was quite erroneous. All the survey information was put in boxes in storage somewhere, probably still there decades later.

The hard part of today was once the Boyle was reached, having to cross the Doubtful and then more riverbeds to walk up. A sign indicated 1.5 hours to the Boyle carpark, near where I am packed tonight but was more than an hour more when I finally wandered into the Outdoor Education Centre to pick up my 10kg food parcel for the next 11 days.

I’ve been ravenous over the last few days but sadly, when I cracked the package open, there was little more than base rations, not much in the way of frivolous goodies, looks as if my weight will continue to decline.

An early night will be had.

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