Windless. Thick fog. Damp.
But the accommodation at Crystal Biv was comfortable enough. I had my sleeping mat for the wooden slats, it might have been a different night without it. I slept in my fleecy longs, my woollen hoodie, with a thick beanie over the top, in my soft shell jacket all done up.
Still cold for the first few hours, the nylon is touching in much of my sleeping bag. Too many clumps of wet feathers rather than the usual fluffiness.
I was in bed before 7 pm, listening to hundreds of frogs with their mating calls down at the tarn. I believed there was only a limited distribution of amphibians in New Zealand. These must be the noisy Australian imports.
I filled in the morning, reading a supercilious, irritating book on Venice social climbers that had been left, and suddenly I was eating breakfast at 1 pm.
The tide level is down in the pack so not so long to stuff everything in now. Still, I finally left by 2 pm.
I was hoping for a brighter afternoon, but it wasn’t to be.
Calm. Fog, or was it cloud?
It was just a 300 m climb to what I imagined would be flat alpine meadows, but while the climbing was easy enough in the tussock/herbland, if somewhat of a steep puff, it turned out not to be exactly level at the 1300 m mark as the map had shown. Instead it was waves of schist rock on an angle, mostly tussock covered, all quite distorting direction finding in the fog.
I followed my GPS map, that shows you where you are in the landscape, an entirely useful feature in semi-whiteout conditions.
Exactly where indicated on the map was a marker pole showing the start of the track down. It turned out to be the usual steep decline, some greasy flax leaves hidden under the tussock. Lower down it levelled to a slightly less than 30° angle and was a straightforward traipse for the last 15 minutes.
Man, haven’t sections like those been few on this trip, ie, easy walking. Maybe just the initial walk up to the cableway, and for a short river stretch down the Hokitika River just over Frew Saddle.
Unsurprisingly there was no one in the hut. At least I can stretch out here unlike last night’s dog box at Crystal Biv. Even a water tank.
With that mist I’m fairly soaked. My boots have been well wetted by the dripping tussock. Didn’t even need a river crossing today to achieve my standard wet feet.
Despite only an hour and half’s exercise today I’m pleased to make the shelter of the hut, just as a few drops start falling.