I guess I must be over it all, the walking, because after my walk last night back up from Routeburn Flats I was just thinking it’s almost time to hang up the boots, after all they ain’t the sweetest smelling objects around.

Today it was time to really crank out some distance, a change in weather from cloudless to drizzle. Heading up to Harris Saddle, that’s serious, clouds whipping through the gap, low cloud clinging to the hills, but the reality wasn’t so bad.

There were none of the expansive views of yesterday, as I retraced my steps back over the Routeburn. At times you could at least see the Hollyford River 500m below in between the scudding clouds. The wind was somewhere from a northerly direction, ie, so that wasn’t bad, not in your face. There were views of Lake Mackenzie and the hut and then just on arrival the rain started.

I had a coffee with the gas stove bearing couple from Australia, we had shared a couple of nights together and even some conversation, plant life, pests, tracks, etc.

Then it was donning the full rain gear, oh, I already had it on for the wind, hood up and I was off for the hut that was my first on the Routeburn, a quick bite there, then zooming off for Lake McKellar, no hanging around.

There’s just too many Macs around here, Mackenzie, McKerrow, McKellar, etc,

The rain then continued all the way to McKellar. It’s supposed to swing around to the south tonight and the forecast was predicting snow for tonight down to 400m. Sure. We are at 625 m here but there is some initial travel through forest so even if it eventually, he cynically states, it won’t be so bad.

Since the marvellous group on the Milford for the main there’s been almost always non-kiwis in huddles in their separate corners, once you get to the huts. For those who know me it will be a shock to find that I’m the loquacious one.

Arrival here at McKellar Hut, there were two groups, four and three, they were all sitting around playing cards. I asked if everyone was at some Zen meditation retreat where people had taken a vow silence. Maybe they couldn’t quite get their head around the imminent arrival of 18 teenage schoolkids, my idea of an icebreaker. Kiwis are good for a chat, the rest, just the odd one or two in the mob.

No fire despite a full woodshed, wood rather wet, from a recently lopped mountain beech tree, the three blokes, all Poms, claim they have no matches.

Maybe they are waiting for their mother.

At least that gave me something to do rather than engage in another futile one-way conversation, like is Milford Sound worth visiting, well, yes, it is one of new Zealand’s major tourist attractions and we’re only about 40 km away. Then again, one didn’t think Rotorua had that much going for it. Hello? Hells Gate and Rainbow Springs don’t rate? Maybe I should check their pulse.

They do say youth is wasted on the young.

Looks like it might be a good night to finish that book I picked up a few days ago.

At least the fire is throwing out the heat, my damp clothes should be dry by morning.

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