Ha, the tent was dry after hanging up all night, and although for some reason I couldn’t sleep all that well last night it was great to lie horizontal on a mattress. It took me another hour after the other two had left, they were superefficient with their minimal pack up. Helps to be carrying a less than full load, I’m just down to my high tide mark, everything packed to the end of the canvas rather than bulging above, although that tent is still hanging outside.

I’ve put on my overtrou from the start, conditions are gloomily overcast, and was surprised by an hour or so of climbing. You work your way above the bushline and the overtrou proved useful considering the strong winds across the flatish tops. Then you wander along a reasonably well marked trail at around the 600 – 700 m mark for a few hours before dropping down into the bush again.

Yesterday along the water race was an almost pure kahami forest, a few scattered rata, I’ve never encountered that before, no major evidence of rimu logging. Today it was the whackiest pure silver beech forest, moss everywhere, sphagnum on the ground, other species on the tree trunks. It’s essentially untouched forest, other than the trail on the ground. There was short sections that were quite surreal with the moss so thick over everything, like an acoustic blanket. The clouds prohibit the fully expansive view but the coast is obvious, Riverton just down there, Stewart Island, actually much of Southland would be on offer on a good day. A minor gale is hammering in and I don a second beanie and my gloves, I must be getting old and soft.

Then after the plunge down through the forest suddenly I was on a major formed gravel road, heading up to a big microwave transmitter station, with a one and eight gradient for 3.5 km, just a little steep for comfortable climbing, up to 800 m this time. That’s called Bald Hill for some reason.

Just over the top I meet my first SOBO, southbound, Marcus, a cheery guy, we’re all cheery, we swapped information, he says he’s only had about five days off, reckons 16 km is not a bad day at the office, 10 weeks from Ships Cove at the northern most point of the track in the South Island. He has his worldly possessions on his back, was in Iceland before New Zealand, now heading to North America. We chatted for almost two hours, gee, now it’s after 5 pm, we decided we’d better keep moving. He’s calm, rational, balanced and happy about his life, and finishing.

Not too far to the road end where I find Fiona and Anthony have set up camp, have been here a good while, even finished dinner. It’s a reasonable spot and there’s even water just down the hill if you can scratch your way through some thorny bush lawyer.

All in all, another great day.

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