I was wondering whether to move on this morning, I couldn’t pick up the weather forecast on my radio, the hills must be blocking the signal, but it was easy enough to look outside.

The verdict: steady drizzle.

Thought I pack up anyway just in case it lifted. I made and ate my breakfast, my stove is cranking after I cleaned it yesterday.

At least the river was way down, just about at the non-rain level, there was a view up the river, occasionally, and once I even saw some blue sky.

That settled it, I was off.

Still drizzle but I’m dressed for it, and the boots already wet from yesterday. It’s about three hours up the river to the start of the main climb to David Saddle, that’s if you know where to turn off with all the low cloud around. There’s a track for about a kilometre, otherwise you make your own way. I cross the river a few times to avoid climbing in trackless forest.

The climb up David Saddle is straightforward, steep most of the way, the hard part is getting from the main ridge into the chute but if you climb almost to the top it’s pretty easy to negotiate. The top 50 m is real steep but the rock is schist on edge, about the best grip possible but you wouldn’t want to fall, you’d be well sliced up.

As I climb the views open up all the way down the East Mataki valley, there are impressive cliffs, a great glacial valley.

Over the top I’m into the fog. No more rain and eventually on the way down it all briefly opens up and I can look down the full D’Uville and even see Moss Pass. What does last is the descent, I’m seemingly slower coming down than getting up, it’s not straightforward and there’s only a few rock cairns for guidance, if you can spot them in the fog.

I fluke following the track and then it’s not so far from where you get down to the river that you find the hut.

That’s the last of the truly adventurous days for a while, all the remainder of the trail I’m intending to travel will be well marked and after three nights on my lonesome I may well be back to having company tomorrow.

Tonight I’m cloistered in this tiny, newish, bivvy.

Actually it’s not that small, there are two bunks and a small square table, even a broom. No longdrop though, instead there’s a shovel.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Upper D’Urville Bivvy

Upper D'Urville Bivvy, Nelson Lakes National Park
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