The old D’Urville Hut is as dank and smelly as I recall but it does have an outstanding vista across the lake, over to Mt Cedric and the Travers Range.
A place was scratched out for me to sleep, guns moved, not so easy to find space in a hut where people have arrived by boat with all their accoutrements, there’s a tendency to spread out onto every available horizontal surface, then again I’m just a solitary tramper with minimal needs, the main one being able to keep track of all my possessions in the free for all gloomy jumble.
I crashed out early, yesterday was 7 hours or so on the move, in retrospect I could, should, have stayed at Sabine with the three gals and could still have made it easily enough to Tiraumea today.
The shooters, Jim, Mark and son Reuben were away early, like 5 30am, when I crossed paths with them later they hadn’t potted anything else today, but they were lugging the other half of the pig that had proved too much for one bloke’s shoulders to carry yesterday afternoon.
I enjoyed my last socialisation for a while, I guess, but still managed to get away before 9.
The climb up to the Tiraumea Saddle is the shortest of those around but even the 250 m had me struggling, one of it’s features, brevity, is made up for with the steepness of the incline, but I’m OK on the uphills, just one toenail cutting into another little toe giving a little grief. The walk is in fact one of the most pleasant around due to the paucity of foot traffic, the last people through, a group of three, was almost a month ago, so there’s not the scrambling over tree roots of the more heavily used trails. It’s all big moss tree forests, well, it is moss, there’s some mighty red beech trees which have partially dropped leaves, they aren’t truly deciduous, also standard issue moss, lichen, ferns reasonably thick on the ground, the sky, well, still leaden.
I get to the old NZFS style six bunk hut in time for lunch but the sign to my planned destination says another 4.5 hours, it’s an 800 m climb and I decide to truncate travels for the day, I’d be staggering in at 5 30 pm, just on full dark even if I hoofed it and to be honest with my numerous photo stops and excessive luggage I’m taking longer than the national park signs suggest.
I’ve worked out that five hours walking is sufficient with the two week food ballast I’m carrying on my back at the moment, rather similar timing to my bike touring days, six hours is getting into overtime, but today I’m having the afternoon off.
I’m unlikely to meet other trampers for the next week, I’m going a bit off the regular tourist route. Now it’s fully dark it’s clear I’ll have this place to myself tonight.
I spent some time gathering firewood, plenty around due to the forest, and with no major river crossings in the next few days I might just try to get those feet dry after the crossing of the D’Urville River yesterday.
I do recall staying in this hut in my school days, must have been August, the coldest month because we’d bought a bucket of water up from the river and it, along with our wet socks, froze despite being inside the hut, well at least the top inch. That was one of the coldest nights of my tramping career, just one monster frost.
No chance of that tonight, with my excessive efforts with the firebox it’s almost 20º inside.