Big nine hours on the track today.

The easy part was the straightforward climb from the river, now a creek, to the top of the David Saddle. This might not quite achieve the official definition of “steep”, ie, “squeezing the juices out of the tussock”, not so much tussock here on the south side of the hill, but it’s enough to get your heart pumping vigorously.

After the bush bashing attempts to follow the track up the EM River, it hasn’t been maintained since 1994 and has only 15 minutes of markers, climbing the clearly defined route up to the saddle seemed preferable to crashing through the shrubbery. The top 80 – 100m is straight up a rock chute that no doubt keeps snow long into the summer, the hut log books say even into February but for me the way is clear, no snow to be seen.

Actually not much to be seen by the time I reached the top, in the fog, except for some strangely located Raoulia at my feet. Tough vegetation, clinging to the rock, you betcha.

It seemed easy enough to pick the track down, well, route down, not so much foot traffic over this pass, there are no markers, but in the cloud I became detached from the footprints and wandered my own path down using my GPS at times, no way to spot the huge orange marker on the bush edge that they claim is there. Towards the bottom in the mist and gloom found myself crashing through some extreme regrowth, a real Boy’s Own adventure, and ended up about 600m upstream from where I should have been.

It took longer to go down than in it did to climb the pass.

Once at the river, a couple of crossings and the big orange marker presented itself.

4 40pm.

Just a hop, step, on the recently marked track to this tiniest of huts: two bunks, bench 600mm square, no dunny, a shovel is provided, just as darkness was crashing in. Basically lucky today was so warm, ie, above 10ºC, and nothing in the way of rain after yesterday’s efforts.

A big, fun, crashing around day, but I guess that’s why I’m here.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Upper D’Urville Bivvy

Upper D'Urville Bivvy, Nelson Lakes National Park
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