Hooray. A quieter day after a surprisingly frosty start, 4°C inside the bunkroom.

In a complete reversal from yesterday not a cloud in the sky, plenty of that recent snow on display up higher, but that made a retreat as the day progressed.

I had a marvellously slow start, sitting drinking coffee on my lonesome until a Czech woman arrived from The Divide and waited for her Chilean friend. Next, a group of three at pace, not stopping to check out the lake, just bustling on.

I hang around for a while as the first person coming in the opposite way, from my proposed destination tonight, came in for a chat. A French bloke stopped to roll a couple of cigarettes, one behind the ear, before being dispatched as quickly as the first, explaining why he couldn’t afford to go on the Milford Sound cruise. Okay.

It’s a steady climb, a big waterfall to scurry around, then later a few kilometres of unexpected gnarliness, rock hopping down and up the slopes, on occasions bursting out of the forest on avalanche paths, major views to be taken in down the Hollyford valley, Mt Tutoko if you know where to look in the Darran Mountains, Lake McKerrow, actually almost to Martins Bay and then down immediately below to Gunns Camp, over to where I stayed at Hidden Falls, initially way back almost a month ago, and, of course, the Routeburn Track itself over on the right. So, a whole lot of where I had been or where I was to go.

Surprisingly I’m the first to the hut and have my choice of bunks, I take the obscure bunkroom out the back and indicate to a few others who wander in the other bunkroom up the stairs above the living area. I must be feeling somewhat antisocial because I then wander around to the campsite and beyond to a huge rock with a split in it, called quite unexpectedly Split Rock. Then I attempt the head of the lake but the track is majorly overgrown, I get through that, but after yesterday’s rain, I find the lake is up a metre or so, the track is clearly submerged and the alternative is an unpleasant looking bush bash, maybe 30 minutes crashing around in deep fern and I retreat.

The lake is familiar from my faded memory banks, I was here half a lifetime ago, the hut, I’m not so sure.

One thing has changed. Back then, after Easter, I was pretty much on my lonesome from recollection, now, well, it’s a different story.

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