After a slower than normal morning routine I was on my way and back at the trail at 0720. The first 13 km was a road walk which went quickly. There wasn't much traffic and the scenery was nice but it was really hot, even though it was so early.
After 3 hours and 15 minutes I arrived at the trail head. From here it was a lovely walk beside the river which was beautiful, crystal clear and slightly greenish - nice green not dirty green. the Swiss guys I met yesterday at the campground caught up to me as I was taking photos at a swingbridge. I then overtook them 15 minutes later.
The track was a little rougher than I was expecting to Emerald Pool Picnic area and this area was just a picnic table though if you went down to the river it was pretty. As I got back to the track I saw the Swiss just in front of me and I quickly caught them going up a hill but rather than pass I took a break to eat a snack and key then get further ahead as I much prefer walking without other people around.
The track then climbed away from the river and sidled around the hill before dropping back to the river. The bush was a mixture of trees but there were large parts if beech which I love walking through. Just 5 minutes from the Hut I passed the Swiss guys as they were getting ready to have lunch.
After 2 hours 45 minutes from the road end I reached Captains Hut which is an older 6 bunk hut. I filled in the Hut Book before continuing. The hut book is a green Hardback book either called a Visitors Book or an Intentions Book depending on its age. These are in every Hut. They should be filled in by everyone passing the hut even if they are not stopping there. The reason for this is Search and Rescue use these books as their main tool to narrow down where a person went missing when they have been reported lost. Also DOC (Department of Conservation) use thesr to see hut usage and determine maintenance priorities or whether to dismantle huts that are not used.
I continued on and after 5 minutes found a fantastic spot to have lunch in the shade looking over the river and a little waterfall.
From there the track sidled first up one side of the river crossing a stream by swingbridge before crossing over a swingbridge over the main river and sidling on that side crossing a stream by swingbridge and climbing a short but steep hill. Here I met Nina from Guatemala struggling up the hill with a very heavy pack. She was doing the South Island part of Te Araroa so was just starting to get her trail fitness.
The track then flattened out to a fast stretch before reaching Middys Hut. It took 1 hour 15 minutes (time at lunch deducted but all other breaks included).
As I opened the hut to fill in the Intentions Book a wave of heat wafted out so I was out of there quickly. I made use of the toilet and as I was putting my pack back on I got savaged by Sandflys. They were latching on even as I was walking off. I am glad I didn't have to stay at that hut.
The track then crossed back over the Pelorus River and started climbing. It was 600 meter climb over 4 km so constant but not too steep. Thankfully there were now some clouds so it cooled off but it was still hot. Near the top I saw a weka and it was nice to see one in a more natural environment. The trees changed as I gained elevation and near the top were some big rock outcrops.
I reached Rocks Hut in 1 hour 45 minutes from Middy Hut. The hut was a modern 16 bunk hut with the luxury of flush toilets, very unusual for a hut. There were two other people in the hut.
Lisa lived in Nelson and had mountain biked up the Dunn Mountain Trail to Copper Mine Saddle, hid her bike, then walked 1 hour to the hut. Kevin is section hiking TA and started in Anakiwa and will walk to St Arnaud. He was keen to look at my gear and talk about ways to lighten his pack. He was struggling on this walk due to having no trail fitness and got the impression he was not happy with himself about this, especially when he found out how quickly I was moving. I tried to emphasise how much my 2 month trail fitness was responsible for this and he should give himself time to adjust and not rush.
After we had finished dinner Nina arrived and I was able to see why her pack was so heavy. The mysterious bottle of dark liquid I had seen in the pocket of her pack was Soy Sauce - 500 ml of it!
We chatted about travel and tramping then as it got dark went to bed