In the mornings I try to make a pleasant space and time to eat my porridge, and swill my second cup of coffee. Just to take the time to notice my surroundings and, I guess, my place out here as well.

This morning I went down near the Tolson River for today’s Contemplation Time, found a comfortable possy and was joined by some of the local wildlife, a robin, a tom tit, a grey warbler surprisingly close at hand, and even a bellbird came to within 3m to check me out, I like the colour of their undercarriage. There was the distant sound of kakariki but none arrived for a closer inspection. A huge pile of recent rat droppings indicated some mammalian locals. Unlike yesterday, when there were gale force winds most of the day, I was greeted by a swarm of tentative sandflies.

The flavour of the water was more noticeably unpleasant, tide must be in, no matter, I’m moving on.

I guess yesterday took some energy because I wasn’t exactly full of beans. I can’t remember the last time I just stayed in bed for an hour, listening to the news on my little radio, even though there was nothing of interest. I ended up leaving after 9am, four hours after it was light.

The walk to Freds was about three hours and it was very tempting to stay, but I scoffed my lunch and high tailed it for Rakeahua. That section of the Southern Circuit is remarkably up-and-down, sometimes just a climb or descent of 10m, or 20m, never as much as 100m. Then, when that was over, you get down onto the flat, the last third, the most consistent bog on Stewart Island. Unlike the Freshwater Plain, with the bog is, err, fresh, mostly, this one is seriously uncertain consistency.

With this three day drought, strong winds and warm weather, much of the way was surprisingly solid, except where it wasn’t. It was just the final section along the tidal Rakeahua River where it, or more correctly I, was tested, plunging a few times into some horrid dank slime. I must have been tired.

Despite my crashing around, I’m not a noiseless tramper, I managed to surprise a deer at close quarters.

There was another surprise for the day, on arrival at the hut, meeting a fellow tramp of solitary disposition like myself, Klaartje, that’s the female of the species. She is working for DOC and been up with the dotterels, there’s an exposed bird breeding ground DOC protects from rats up near Table Hill. She had decided to have a few days in the Tin Range, heading over to Pegasus, so was admirably suited to giving me some pointers. She reckoned two days bush bashing each way to Gog and Magog was effort of the excessively demanding, plus there is a river to cross halfway. Others have done it in recent times but not often solo, and there have been many who ventured up into the Tin Range only to return before getting to Pegasus, mostly caused by the entirely exposed conditions above the tree line. She showed me some photos of the Tin Range, that looks gnarly enough, my ambitions to move beyond Port Pegasus are on the wane.

We did go on a bit, when you get a couple of solo trampers together it seems there’s plenty to talk about. Better get some conversation in because the next week I’ll just be talking to myself.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Rakeahua Hut

Rakeahua Hut, Southern Circuit, Stewart Island
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