Merrivale to Martin’s Hut
Hiking Days Remaining: 5
Remaining Distance: 105km
Distance Covered: 3196km
Total Traverse Hiking Days: 143
Another early start to the day. I was up before 6am, got dropped off at Merrivale where I ended hiking two days ago. Duck hunting season started today and the continuous sound of gun-fire followed me from the start till late in the evening. I was surprised to hear the gun shots from way up on Bald Hill and deep into the Longwood forest. Those poor ducks don’t stand a chance.
One of the highlights of the day was the view out to Bluff. Although I saw Bluff a few days ago, from the Takitimu Mountains, today it was that much closer and clearer. Only four more full days of hiking to go till I’m there! I’m going to miss this way of life and I’m not ready for it to end. I knew I would be feeling this way even before this thru-hike began.
I climbed the last big hill of the Te Araroa Trail to the open ridge where I enjoyed views of Stuart Island and Te Wae Wae Bay before starting the steep descent to Martin’s Hut. I was glad not to be staying at Martin’s Hut. What a dive! They really should invest in a new hut at some stage as this one’s an antique. I left the antique and followed the orange markers looking for a trail off to the left which would take me to Cascade Rd. The sign was either missing or had not yet been placed there. I completely missed the small foot track and ended up having to backtrack about a kilometre. Backtracking always seems further at the end of a long day. Not long after, with the aid of my headlamp, I made it to the point on Cascade Rd where Gordon and I will start hiking tomorrow morning. My family met me there and we drove back to our base (Tuatapere) where we enjoyed a delicious dinner at The Last Light Lodge Cafe and Bar.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve hit the ground hard on my traverse, but todays fall topped them all. On my way down to Cascade Rd the trail was extremely slippery. I suddenly fell back and my pack took most of the hit for me but my left elbow already has a huge bruise on it. My right hiking pole snapped in two which I was quite pissed off about. Actually I’m fortunate to have had those poles this far. So many things have happened to them along the way especially the right pole. It’s been run over by two cars, it’s fallen from a swing bridge and was taken by the river below (the pole floats so I had to give chase) and a dog tried to claim it by pissing all over it! Please let that be the very last of it!