Drizzle, maybe rain.

It’s hard to tell from inside a hut but I was up early, two guys who cruised in late from Martins Bay had decided to do the Pyke and were leaving early.

Me? Not much point, my day was tide dependent and low tide was three this afternoon, better to go back to bed after an early brekky, porridge and two cups of coffee, and finish reading my second book I found here.

The weather clearly has some making up of all that fine weather I’ve been having, it’s coming down consistently. I suggested that the guys turn around if the weather is not so good, or the Pyke River crossing looks in any way gnarly but maybe they decided to bash on gung ho. The first three hours for them is easy, where it’s not possible to get lost but after crossing the Pyke you get into the toi toi where the markers are more sporadic, that’s a massive grass, known as cutty grass because lacerations are easily gained, in retrospect gloves would be useful.

About 12 I finally sprang up and had a second breakfast, I’ve still got nine days of porridge so might as well warm up with that. The rain took a break for a while but began again before I left.

Yes, that is indeed rain by any definition.

Another trudge down the beach, I’ve been down here a few times now, this will be the fourth, the wind whipping the rain at my only exposed body part, my face, I’ve gloves on, in fact the full wet weather survival kit, over-trou, gaiters, boots, two wool layers, Polartec vest, beanie, and my raincoat. And you need it all, it might not be winter, or even very cold, but the wind chill would be alarming.

One of the reasons to leave so late is to get across flooded McKenzie stream, no longer almost jumpable, it’s a dirty brown and flowing furiously, but well spread out coming down the shingle onto the beach, knee deep, swift and the boots are well rinsed once again.

It is worth contemplating getting some more mussels, I drop the pack and dash out thigh deep in the brine, grabbing mussels with my gloves on, can’t get much wetter, one eye on the waves, dashing back to shore a few times and running back, there’s tonight’s dinner.

Then it was around the rugged rocks, lots of rock hopping, the rocks incredibly variable: greywacke in places; that more metamorphic rock you get more usually here; two types of conglomerate, a fine kind that could be even easily mistaken for concrete laid one Saturday afternoon by your mates in the days when there wasn’t any rugby on the black-and-white telly, and a coarser style; mud stone with strange netting patterns; the lovely green rock that varies from a light green to almost black; different sedimentary rock in striped layers that’s been twisted around perpendicular to the ground; some whitish limestone; all in all, the full gamut of colours.

Still raining, the Southern Ocean thundering alongside, It’s time to startle a few seals, actually five individual lonely young males, and passing five dead seals, not surviving the recent storms, their bodies leaving me the more startled one.

That was the prelude to wandering through the Long Reef seal colony, the seals nestling high up the beach or, mostly, in the kiekie tangle, the acid stench is quite something, it wasn’t me, I checked. They must be tired and hungry, not so keen to do their sack race to the surf, I scurry on through at close quarters.

Just one wrong turn and I almost step on a startled Fiordland crested penguin, wings spread as it waddles away, there’s a fair amount of penguin squawking in the shrubbery.

Suddenly the rain has stopped, it’s close by the hut and in the way this particular excursion has eventuated, there’s a couple of stray blokes in Martins Bay Hut, the fire is going, I’m fully saturated and the day’s effort is over.

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