I saw the turnoff to this hunters’ camp last time I was here, two winters ago, but judging by the growth of vegetation on the tent areas it’s clear it’s been longer than that since any hunters have been in residence. And I can guarantee there is seldom, if ever, stray trampers like me popping in. The track from Freshwater to Freds is vague enough, not much use there, maybe 10 parties a year, and I’ve come about 1 km off the track down to the river. Most time pressed people prefer the water taxi almost directly to the door, $50 a person saves two big days of walking.

I had my eyes out for potential campsites prior to this turnoff but they all had too much water, ie, swampy, or nowhere near drinking water, in the end Tolson is a good compromise: good sphagnum substrate, mostly dry and with only a short walk to the tannic and slightly saline Tolson River. No salt needed in my dinner.

As painful days go this would rate, a morning of ups and downs before a bigish up over the saddle, not so bad, you climb quickly, ie, it’s steep, down the Freshwater side it is more of a swamp-on-a-slope. All I can say is you can have too much of that hill/root/swamp combo.

No one at Freshwater Hut, the two groups of last night’s inhabitants had stopped for a chat on the track, they didn’t appear to be early risers but they were finishing the North West Circuit, North Arm Hut tonight. They didn’t claim many kiwi sightings, just one bird in ten days for the first couple, a score of two for the following three trampers.

I left Freshwater about 4 30 pm keen to cross the swamp but for some reason, despite the onset of tiredness, it didn’t seem any Big Thing. I even failed to rinse my socks in the foul-smelling muck, maybe the bog is drying off. Well, not really, perhaps it was my rejuvenated gaiters keeping the juice all at bay.

Highlight of the day: a flyover by four kakariki, parakeets, species not discerned and, I guess later, a closeup with a white-tailed deer, for once not just the blink, somewhat thrilling.

Not surprisingly I found myself horizontal in bed around 8 pm despite continuing daylight down here until after 10 pm. Somehow I think I might be disturbing the nearby animals with my snoring long before that. Feeling quite bushed after an eight hour day.

Interesting Fact of the Day: not one sandfly spotted.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Tolson River hunter’s campsite

This is the rather obscure turnoff from the southern circuit track. | Tolson River hunter’s campsite, Southern Circuit, Rakiura National Park
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