Distance today: 29.5km
Distance total: 2858.9km
Time hiked: 11h 47min
Time total: 866h 30min
Very good, deep sleep tonight in the Tin Hut.
Only the wind, hammering against the hut, woke me up a few times.
It's 6:30, when I leave the hut - barefoot, as I have to cross a river on the first few meter of today's hike.
The crossing is straightforward and with my Lunas on, I continue on the remains of a rough 4WD or bulldozer track, how it's called in the notes, over 1680 meter high Martha's Saddle.
Once again it's very windy and I slowly start to believe that's fairly common here. Uncomfortable, especially as it's usually a headwind, but nothing you can do against it. The 4WD track fades more and more the closer I get to Top Timaru Hut. On the last kilometer it's back to a standard tramping track.
It's 11 when I arrive at the hut. And the usual question: What now? Should I make myself comfortable and enjoy a relaxing afternoon at hut? Sounds tempting but it's way too early and I couldn't fully enjoy it as I know the next section is challenging sidle track. The kind of track I've never liked, especially after having my not-so-pleasant experience in Te Kuiti.
So I decide to continue towards Stody's Hut, which will take me another 8 hours. A long hike still ahead.
The Timaru River Track initially sidles above, then drops to Timaru River in steep terrain. This part is well benched and makes it quite easy and safe, despite the drop-off's. Also the following 6 kilometer or 2 hours through Beech forest are surprisingly straightforward. Often flat and not too much sidling.
This changes rather suddenly. What follows are numerous scrambling parts, especially where the track departs river and sidles high above river, on a not benched, outsloped track (hard on the ankles which are constantly tilted). The up and down cost me lots of energy - wasted energy - as every meter I climb, I have to descent again. Depressing. A fantail, who is following for a while is cheering me up though. I really start to love this cute little birds. Especially their graceful flying style and the way they "talk" to me.
Eventually, the track leaves the river for good and with a full water bottle I climb out of the valley, using my hands as my sandals have not enough traction on the ridiculously steep track. 600 meter up in 1 km... Slow progress especially after a 700 meter climb up to Martha's Saddle this morning, and climbing another few hundred meter while following the Timaru River Track.
The last few steps seem to take forever and I'm very happy when I finally spot the old mustererers hut through the bush shortly past 6. What a hard day ,it was!