Unfortunately I wasn't as alone in the hut as I thought last night. I had at least one very active and noisy rat in the hut. Unfortunately people had left rubbish with food residue behind rather than carrying out like they should have. This drew the rat above the bushline and into the hut. Luckily my habit is to either hang my food out of reach or pack away so my stuff was good, though that didn't help me sleep better.
I had decided to sleep in as I thought it would be an easy day. Only 18 km starting with a bit of a climb before a large descent then relatively flat.
I was on my way at 0830 and enjoyed the climb up through the mist. The wind had picked up and it was too strong to keep my hat on but not enough to blow me around. There were a few bits of rock climbing which was fun. I love being in the mountains when the visibility is so limited, it makes you concentrate on the trail more and notice the alpine life right on the trail.
I reached the summit of Mt Crawford and laughed at the marker, a short length of metal pipe hammered into the ground which I imagine is the only thing that will survive the ferocious winds regularly encountered.
It was then a bit of open ridge travel before starting the long steep descent in the bush. This was really tiring and hard on the legs. There were several bits too high for me to step down or jump down so I had to hang if branches and roots to get down. I dislike downhills and tend to be quite slow as I am very careful. One mistake can have very serious consequences.
Finally I was down and then a swingbridge crossing of the Otaki River and following the river for 5 minutes and I reached the Waitewaewae Hut (pronounced YTYY). It had taken 4 hours from Nichols Hut which was the DOC time. Not good for morale to be doing DOC times. Usually I am well under their times.
Thinking there was only an easy 10 km to go I had a leisurely lunch of nearly an hour.
Once back on the trail I was really frustrated at going so slow as the track was really rough due to roots and rocks and constant up and down. The few flat spots were bog. I wasn't enjoying myself much though I did perk up when a Falcon flew in front of me and landed in a nearby tree.
Finally we started climbing up to The Plateau and this was reasonably flat and easier travel except the frequent bogs. After crossing a few streams the track then turned onto a new track recently cut to avoid a large slip (landslide). It was called the "sidle track". To sidle is to walk along the side of a hill which in NZ terrain us a really difficult way to travel. This track has not yet had any work done onitexcept for cutting the vegetation, digging a few dirt holes as steps and putting markers up. Part of it were good but large parts were very difficult. My main issue was there were lots of places the drop fown was too big for me to step down or jump down and there were some places without roots to hold on to to lower myself down.
Along the way I met 4 trampers, 1 older guy and three younger ones. The younger ones seemed pretty tired and said the track was a bit harder than they expected. They seemed blown away when I told them what I was up to and that they were likely to meet another 6 guys on the trail doing the same thing.
Near the end of this new track I could see some work was being done to improve it. Once back on the main track it followed an old tram line which meant it was wide and an easy gradient. It was nice to stretch the legs out and make a decent speed.
The track emerged from the bush and stayed high above the river before finally dropping down to a Swingbridge. This section seemed to take ages.
Once across the Bridge it was a short hill and along a grassy track. There was a junction without signs and I went straight but found out going right here is a shortcut. It was then 1 km to the hut through several junctions. I did hesitate when the signs were pointing to Parawai Lodge and not Parawai Hut. To me lodge has very different connotations than hut, namely expensive and flash. Luckily it was just a plain hut.
I waa the only one there so I settled in. As the hut is near a car park there were a couple of groups doing a short walk who visited. On couple were tourists and I played tour guide by giving them a tour of the hut and explaining what the roitine and etiquette of huts were. About 15 minutes after them a coupke and their daughter arrived and they were fascinated with what I was doing. They asked if I minded them staying in the hut that night and I said no problem. They walked off to talk to the caretaker. 20 minutes later the lady returned saying they would not be staying but she gave me three apples (mentioned in our earlier conversation as things I missed when on the trail). She also offered to help with my carbohydrate intake and produced a beer. As I am a rare kiwi who doesn't like beer I declined but thanked her profusely for the apples. I ate two straight away.
I cooked dinner and was reading when to my surprise Joey turned up looking very hot as he had run the last km to just get the day over. Joey, Geoff and Zac (Romain had a sore knee and was road walking around the Tararuas) had stayed with the kiwis at Dracophyllum Hut last night. The kiwis Fred and Nev were kind enough to let them sleep on the floor of the tiny 2 bunk hut.They had lost Julien along the way when he turned the wrong way at an intersection. They were surprised he wasnt at the hut when they arrived (Julien usually walks ahead of the group and waits for them to catch up). After a bit of worry and luckily getter cell phone coverage they found out he had ended up getting to the end of a track and walking to the town.
So the guys decided to push for a long day to link back up quicker.
Next Fred and Nev arrived and 20 minutes later Geoff and Jack who had taken a scenic detour as they didn't have the maps.
So it was now 6 in the hut which made for a nice evening of conversion. When it got dark we went to bed.