Saturday, 21 February 2015

Day 111. Island Bush to Martins Hut.

Today 35 km. Total 2888 km. 9 hours 20 minutes (0800-1720).

Last night was much warmer and it was a foggy morning which meant lots of dew on our tents. One great advantage of cubin fibre is I can just wipe it dry with a cloth as it doesn't absorb water like nilon.

We set off at 0800 into the pine forest for a couple of km then across the farmland that I received permission for yesterday.  Unfortunately the grass was wet with dew so my dry feet didn't last long.

Morning Fog. Yes it is still summer - supposedly

Dan in Island Bush Forest

Coming down into the farmland

It was then a 2 1/2 km walk on a sealed road before turning into a gravel road.  Dan stopped here to dry his tent and I kept going up this road for 7 km firstly through deer farm, then forest and finally through bush. From the forest it was a steady climb but at an easy gradient. 

Road walk


Farm track

Heading up through Eucalyptus Forest

And now the sun is warming things up

I took a break at the carpark before heading onto a tramping track through the bush to Bald Hill. I was a little worried about how rough the track was to start thinking I might be doing the 2 km/h DOC time. However after a couple of hundred meters the track was in the more mature bush and improved.  It was a great tramping track that required concentration to not fall flat on my face but was beautiful and well marked.  I was thinking that the international northbounders were probably in shock at how rough this track was but the southbounders were probably loving that there was a track and thinking it was in good condition.

The track went through a swampy clearing,  back into the bush where the trees were starting to get the goblin look where they go all twisty and bent with moss hanging off them. This usually happens above 800 meters but was a bit lower here.  

9 hours for 20 km to Martins Hut - that must be a rough track

A little rough

But not too bad

Watch out for the hanging Bush Lawyer vine that will catch on

Goblin Forest

Fun track

Love this forest

Love this track

                                                Video of walking through the Goblin Forest
After another 10 minutes I was into the open alpine scrubby plants and swampy climbing up to Bald Hill where there is a cell phone tower. I walked up to the trig only 30 meters off track and had lunch looking at the fantastic views. I could now see Bluff where I will be finishing in only a few days. Wilhem and Jolein were at the cell tower where an electrician was working and letting them charge their cell phones.  Wilhem came up to talk to me while I had lunch and then I went down to say hi to Jolein before continuing.  We were aiming for the same hut so would catch up more then.

Looking up at Bald Hill

Looking down from Bald Hill

Looking down from Bald Hill

Now it was a fast 4 km downhill on a road before starting the last track of the day. This track was similar to the last one but had some really neat sections where I was winding through the moss covered trees. It climbed to a clearing which once again was swampy.  The trail was ok to follow but the markers would be hard to see in low visibility.  Luckily I had a good day so had no issues.

From this clear bit I could see the ridge I would be on to the next hill and headed back into Goblin Forest and little swampy clearings all the way along the ridge and up to Longwood Range. It was now 3 km in the open following marker poles but someone had cleared a path through the alpine scrub with a weedeater so progress was faster than I was expecting.  The slow bit was stopping to take photos of the fantastic views. I seem to be taking lots of photos all day. Maybe subconsciously I am trying to ensure my memories of this journey are captured in full. Probably though it is just because it is a beautiful and interesting scenery today. 

The road down from Bald Hill

Back into the bush

Goblin Forest

Looking across at Longwood Range

Nicely cleared track

I can see Bluff

Tarn on Longwood Range

I hadn't really been expecting much of interest south of Mavroa Lakes but I have really loved the trails since Te Anau.  There had been great challenging but not frustratingly difficult tracks and a lot of variety in vegetation and terrain.

The final part of today was a muddy descent down through the bush to Martins Hut.  I took my time hopping on roots and rocks to avoid the wet mud. I nearly tripped over once and ended up with my arm in a hole in a tree and thankful that I didn't break it and that this is NZ where nothing dangerous lives in the hole.

I reached the hut in 5 hours 20 minutes from the Merrivale Road carpark and that was leisurely with lots of photo breaks and lunch.

Heading down

Very muddy track down

Martins Hut.  5 hours 20 not 9 hours! 

Night 111

The TA trampers at our last hut of the trail.  From the left Wilhem,  me, Jolein,  Dan

I didn't like the state of the roof so decided not to use the rainwater tank and walked 5 minutes to the stream. I cooked dinner so I would be out of the way when the others arrived.  Martins Hut is a very old hut and very dark but has recently had mattresses installed and is a great hut with character. It is cosy with 4 bunks and a little bench for cooking that is only big enough for one person cooking at a time.

Willhem arrived followed shortly by Dan and then Jolein. A lot of the focus of our conversation was memories of the trail and I asked for their advice for future TA Trampers to add to my hints and information blog that I will do once finished.

It is a little sad that this is the last hut of the trail but at least I know that I can spend more time in huts in the future unlike those from overseas.

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