2pm. 7ºC.

I’ve taken to bed in preference to lighting the fire. There’s wood here dry enough but in logs too huge to contemplate attacking with an axe in the current downpour.

But I’m happy enough.

I’ve got my thick wool beanie over my thin wool skullcap.

That’s OK.

Now 5 37pm. 8ºC.

I’ve raised the temperature with my cooking a delicious meal: soup in a cup entree, then a bucket of spag and sauce, and as a bonus, half an unopened packet of potato flakes I found in the camp oven. Yumm.

One of the reasons for feeling the cold might be not eating sufficiently. I had my bucket of porridge and one cup of white coffee, no sugar, for breakfast and my tablet each of cheese and fruitcake for lunch. Between those I had my 8 dates, not so much sustenance for a big bloke.

The other more plausible reason is I’ve got out of the habit of single digit temperatures. This time last year I was on my bike on my way Alice to Boulia on the Plenty Highway, I remember stating back then that my bedtime temperature in my tent was 16ºC, basically what I’ve become accustomed to.

Not much radio reception here in the East Branch, the valley is deep at this point and although it’s darkish, the sun usually causes some interference out here. Still hammering down, although I’ve worked out I could conceivably stay another night and abandon mucking around on my way out.

The walking today was just fantastic. It’s obviously damp up here with the lichen on the bark of the trees, the club mosses and small ferns and small bursts of sphagnum moss to add to the vibrant tones of green.

Knowing it wasn’t so far today, 3 hours, I could take some time out, the deep gorge in the West Branch, the second crossing of the three-wire bridge and the closing in views along the short river flats into the East Branch. No big climbs just the occasional bog to try to skirt around or guess, successfully today, where some solidity lay.

I’ve stayed at East M twice before: the first when I was 22, there’s a photo of me looking freezing in the frost, it was April, the old hut, then used as a woodshed has now gone; the second, during the 2000 Olympics, so September I think, I couldn’t stand the thought of all that overwhelming Australian gush of patriotism to which I had no affinity, I always knew I was destined to return to the roots, I came up the Mataki to Bobs and here and then, realising I probably couldn’t get over David Saddle, it was early Spring, went back over Mole Saddle and the infamous Bull Creek.

The weather needs to cease coming down so heavily, can wait until 6am tomorrow morning bit I’d like a decent day to get over to the bivvy in the D’Urville.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: East Mataki Hut

East Mataki Hut, just like every other photographer, Nelson Lakes National Park
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