Today was supposed to be an easier day, except it wasn’t.

That’s not entirely true, it had to be easier than yesterday, then again it came after that big effort, not exactly bouncing out of my skin this morning.

The Sudden Valley Bivvy was rather cold, I sprung up at 3°C and found similar conformity with the usual weather, ie, no clouds apparent, but the frost certainly was.

And it was retracing my steps down Sudden Valley, knowing, more or less, what was to come. The first easy 2km with those hills apparent, mighty fine walking and a visit by a kea, one or more has been heard in various times, this time it decided to be noticed, dispensing some displeasure at not being left any breakfast, hot or otherwise. Then the valley turns into that gorge and the mountains no longer matter, the gorge, the river, then that chute, and I saw today a plaque with Andrew Croft’s name and a date 24 5 97. In different weather conditions, or with fellow trampers bowling rocks down the chute, it clearly could be quite dangerous. I took my time, maybe ten minutes, in the small loose stuff rather than clambering over the bigger rocks like yesterday and was soon at the bottom.

More river crossings and wet feet but aside from spending 20 minutes taking photos of parts of the gorge and the gorgeous rushing water, I was keen to get out into the sunlight once again.

You have to say that Sudden Valley doesn’t suddenly happen, it’s a long time coming on the way up, plenty of wrestling involved, hopping over giant boulders, etc, it’s for adventurous spirits. I’m glad I’ve been there but might be the one and only time, despite the beauty and the major variety of the botanical types, in an area that deer would rarely venture, too many bluffs, and too wet and dark for possums.

Once into the sunlight and the lunch stop taken it was more rock hopping down to the Hawdon in the afternoon, then wandering up that wide, and at times absent of water, river valley. Immediately back to the south is a view up the Cass River valley where I set out this expedition six days ago.

I came across two parks workers, on the job with killing rats, mice and stoats, mainly due to the massive food supply from beech tree seeds last summer, with plenty of food around the numbers of these pests have been predicted to explode, with dire consequences for the bird life. Three valleys in this area are getting particular attention paid as they are the last remnants of the orange fronted parakeet, once plentiful in the area but now reduced due to the previously mentioned plague.

Once again I staggered into the hut after 5pm, the Hawdon as grand as the Sudden Valley was tiny, and with a magnificent view of what remains of the Hawdon River and the mountains beyond. There’s 20 mattresses here, well appointed accommodation, but the weekend crowd has headed back to the city, I’m here for another night on my lonesome.

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