Struan Flat Road to Merrivale
Days Remaining: 6
Remaining Distance: 135.5km
Distance Covered: 3165.5km
Total Traverse Hiking Days: 142
It was an early start to the day because the last 18.2km section of the day had to be completed in daylight hours only. The owners of the land had certain conditions that they wanted hikers to abide by and those were stated on the trail notes. The notes mentioned that prior permission had to be granted before hiking across the Island Bush Track. At 9am I called the number and got the go-ahead after mentioning that I’d be in that area between 3 and 5pm. I’m still not sure why this call had to be made but I’m sure there is a reason for it.
I left Struan Flat Road and hiked around a crop of swede. The going was slow due to the high grasses which were also wet. By the time I’d finished that 800m off-road hike my pants were drenched from the dew. I should have walked the road section instead. Then a paddock was next and the markers were not showing up in the early morning shadows so it was back to the map for help. I was getting a bit frustrated at how slow my progress was for the day, I decided to make up time by taking the road for about 1.5km. A tractor turned into the same road and pulled up next to me. The driver’s name was Dean. He was very helpful and after showing him the map he mentioned that the route had already changed (Gordon had only printed that map out a couple of weeks ago). He suggested I hike up the Twinlaw Hill where the gum tree plantation started. His directions were easy to follow and for the rest of the day I had no problems finding my way.
The best part of the day was reaching the top of Woodlaw Forest at Twinlaw. I sat down on the grass and just enjoyed the view. All the mountain tops from the coast heading north were blanketed in thick snow. I thought about the earlier days of this traverse hike and how I had to recover from blisters. This view of the snow-covered mountains would not have been as grand if I had not taken those recovery days back in October as winter wouldn’t have set in yet. At the same time I’d had some very uncomfortable days hiking through snow. So the view of these mountains made up for those hard times. No pain – no gain!
The day’s schedule went to plan. I finished the Island Bush Track before sunset. As I was hiking towards Merrivale I saw the familiar sight of a white Toyota Highlander coming over the hill towards me. It was perfect timing. My Dad joined me for the remaining 2km of road hiking and along the way we were treated to the most amazing sunset – the best I’ve ever seen. The photo doesn’t nearly do it justice. Being there was the only way to experience it and I’m so grateful that my family was there with me at the time to share it.