Sunday, June 11, 2017

Coast to Coast - from Freshwater Hut to home (part 2)

After heading downhill for an hour, I heard kaka calling and decided that he was telling me it was time for lunch! I had a beautiful spot - a fallen log to sit on, native orchids smothering a branch above my head and the curious kaka coming closer to check me out.

Kaka in full voice calling me to lunch!

My lunch spot looking down the hill

My lunch spot looking back up the hill

A branch smothered with native orchids
I could have stayed there a lot longer but the GPS told me I still had a way to go. I left around 1pm and walked through stunning bush; it reminded me of Whenua Hou/Codfish Island although with a lot more crown fern (the deer have eaten the more palatable fern layer). It took another hour to get down to the river crossing which marked the start of the 'around the bays' section.

Almost down the hill - no writing on these track markers but great
to know I'm on the right track!

How to get across without wet feet
The river crossing went surprisingly well considering; water is outside my comfort zone but my trusty manuka stick proved invaluable, both for checking the depth and for testing slippery stones. The gods were watching over me and I reached the other side with dry feet and a healthy dose of gratitude! A whitetail deer just around the corner eyed me up and down before heading back in to the bush; then it was into slogging it out around the bays - up, down, slosh through mud; repeat lots and lots of times!!!

Beautiful bush views...

...and glimpses of the water

Pretty streams rushing down to Paterson Inlet

and this glorious waterfall

I was told that this section took about 3 hours but that if the tide was out you could walk across the mudflats and get to North Arm Hut in about an hour. I didn't know what the tides were doing (or exactly where you went) so stuck to the track for over two hours until the markers led me down on to the coastline. I couldn't face going up and over yet again so explored around a couple of bays until I rounded the last corner and saw North Arm Hut. Woohoo!

Paterson Inlet in the setting sun

North Arm Hut beyond the mudflats
Now, this is where I planned on stopping for the night; it's a Great Walks Hut and beds have to be booked in advance. My legs were feeling great and the thought of my own bed, and not having to wear wet and muddy clothes the next day, were very appealing so I filled out my intentions in the hut log book, put my camera away and set out for home. I managed the first 30 minutes without needing a torch and put the hammer down, reaching the road end in 3 hours from the hut and home 15 minutes later at 8.30pm. Huge thanks to the moonlight and being steered along the right track. I had survived the longest tramping day of my life (12hrs 15 mins) and even enjoyed it in the process!