Well, that was an interesting night. I fell asleep around 8pm last night after a hard day’s climbing, and I woke up a few hours later when the midnight circus came out to play!
There were clowning possums, weightlifting rats, and even an acrobatic pig/deer/grizzly bear. The first sound that woke me up was a big crash from the hut involving the big tupperware box I had put my food in. I lay, snapped awake, trying to figure out whether it was really possible that something could have pushed it off the bench, or managed to get the lid off. Probably not, I thought, given the extra rocks I had placed on the lid, but after sever more crashes I decided it was time to investigate.
I turned on my torch, gathered my wits, and left the tent. When I got to the hit some of the rocks on the lid had in fact moved, but I discovered the crashes had most likely come from things on the shelf above it being knocked down onto the box. I placed several more large rocks onto the lid and went back to the tent.
Shortly after I got comfortable again, the screaming began. I don’t know what was wrong with those possums, but the sounds they were making chilled me to the bone. I slowly became comfortable with it, when it was clear they weren’t going to bother me, they were just going to scream at each other all night.
I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep, I think, before the next event: the pig deer bear. There was something hanging around, and it woke me up making very low growly grunty noises. I had no idea what it was. It didn’t hang around long, because something must have spooked it and it suddenly bolted, crashing heavily through the forest.
Finally, the encore arrived. I still don’t know what on earth it was. I awoke to something that sounded like a lot of pressure being let out of something, again and again, like a giant was sitting on a lilo and repeatedly pulling out and pushing in the plug. It slowly died down in force and eventually stopped for about thirty seconds, and then the gurgling began. The giant was now attempting to unblock a drain. This was alarming. It was incredibly loud and sounded like it was only a few metres away from my tent. It stopped, and I was left in the dark silence with my heart beating so fast and loud I was sure the unidentified gurgling object would be able to hear it.
Eventually, after no more from the gurgler, I calmed down and managed to get back to sleep. I woke at 7.30, had the speediest morning on the trail so far, and had left by 8.
After a steep descent down to the river, I began what are commonly known as The Worst Ten Kilometres of the TA. Going into it knowing it would be awful helped, and I really didn’t find it that bad. The track followed a river, crossing it several times and climbing steeply up and downhill beside it. It was raining, and I went for more than one accidental mudslide. Lots of swearing and sighing happened, but I kept myself together and got on with it.
At the hut I ran into Michael and James, who have since met and have walked together for a while since I saw them last in Wanaka and Queenstown. They opted for a rest day today, the hut being a lot cosier than outside, and the three of us look set to walk to Twizel together for the rest of the week.