Actually, for the second night there’s no one else around.
I’ve been around this track a few times, raising that difficult question: why? Or at least: why again?
Days like today are helpful in creating good memories, the weather pleasant, maybe 14ºC max, OK walking weather that’s for sure, even periods of sunshine although in the forest that doesn’t matter so much.
It’s predominantly mixed podocarp forest as they say, plenty of rimu and kamahi, although they weren’t up to the largest ever seen sizing of Day 1 and 2. The area was logged in places from 1890-1931, or so, the easy wood removed from the area around Murray Beach now more a teatree scrubbery. There’s the odd giant rata and other broad-leaved angiosperms, the occasional miro with astringent red berries for the birds and less frequent totaras and matais. Great to walk through with a crown fern carpet of undergrowth.
I remember when I came through this section with my partner of the time on a trip more than ten years ago, the relationship almost ended with this day’s walk, not her idea of gracious living I guess, this seemed to be the most mentally demanding of the whole NW track, you do seem to spend an inordinate time clambering down into creeks and then climbing up the other side as the day progresses.
Now there’s two things to make things seem easier: the sign says 6 hours, I’m sure that’s been bumped up from considerably less in the past, so expectation of arrival is more realistic; and the vegetation on each side of the track has been severely pruned, it’s actually possible to see where your feet should go.