Occasionally you get a day that works out completely differently from what you might imagine.
Today was one of those.
A stroll yesterday, today, humm, a whole heap of energy expended.
I had been thinking over the last few days of various itinerary permutations. Do I keep on going on the official track, or do I branch off and go and do something more vigorous?
I’ve done the Lake Sumner thing plenty of times, it kinda makes sense to veer off somewhere slightly different, more challenging. 3 Mile Creek beckoned as an alternative, a parallel course, maybe St Jacobs Hut the first night, over to Lake Man Bivvy the next, and then skip down the Hopeless River.
Yeah, why not? I won’t be coming through here again for a while.
The route up McMillan Stream was the usual dashed line on the map but it was clear even down the bottom that with the windfalls it was faster progression on the river flats. Then you get into the narrow valley and crossing and re-crossing the creek becomes the modus operandi, what I’ve become accustomed to in recent weeks, this time my boots getting wet on the outside but additional moisture was kept out of the inside.
At times I wondered about my zany decision, windfalls across the creek, too much energy being expended, but eventually I smashed my way up, three hours maybe, and saw a big triangular DOC sign indicating there was indeed a track over the easiest pass you might ever come across. Easy except for the sphagnum moss over the top, and one point where, despite my many weeks of training on Stewart Island, I took a crutch deep plunge.
Unlike a previous serious bog extraction back in 2004, where I attempted to simply rip my leg out, just about dislocating the leg and causing issues for a few years due to the suction, this time I was restrained and eased very slowly out of the morass, no medical problems to report.
Then, mainly because the estimated time was so wrong, and the marked trail actually fairly non-existent, and where it was eventually marked hadn’t been cut for probably more than ten years, I decided that 3 Mile Creek hut, now long after lunch, was where I should stay. Yeah, even though there was, maybe, time to move through to Hope Kiwi Lodge.
Why not? Rain was on the agenda and is currently beginning to fall.
At the hut some tramper had recently removed some ballast from their pack, a big rice meal which I am scoffing for dinner, even though I still have enough food for another two nights. Stopping short tonight ain’t no big thing.
I’ve been walking until after 5pm in recent days, this mid-afternoon stop, unexpected, and being ten nights since I left Greymouth, is super appreciated.