Dad hates huts. I’m starting to clearly dislike them, too. Curiously enough, it wasn’t the wine drinkers that kept us awake all night but the hunters, who tossed and turned every ten minutes on the dot. They had all doubled up on their mattresses using spare ones and I couldn’t help but wonder in the early hours of the morning if they wouldn’t have been comfier with just the one.
Dad and I were surprised with the lack of pain in this morning’s movements about the hut given the rough day yesterday. The sun was still coming up when we left, and I think both of us were grateful for a relatively short day, ending with us being picked up at 1pm.
We began by going rogue, following a four wheel drive track instead of the tramping track, and that way cutting off a section known to be full of windfall and hard going. Following this four wheel drive track meant we had to ford a river at some point, which we did with ease, and found ourselves back on the tramping track on the other side within minutes. The track was a dream compared with yesterday’s, and we made good time.
After a couple of hours walking on river flats and in beech forest, we came across Hope Halfway Hut, complete with a freshly cleaned stag’s skull and antlers laying by the door. The two hunters inside had shot it the previous night, and described how they would have to carry out 30kg of meat between them, on top of already heavy bags, which Dad and I just couldn’t wrap our heads around.
The rest of the track took us an easy couple of hours through the beech forest, accompanied by what sounded like hundreds of bellbirds. Bellbirds are my favourite, so I was ecstatic to actually see a handful, for the first time on this trip. Unfortunately they didn’t stick around long enough for me to get a photo.
Arriving at the Windy Point carpark on the Lewis Pass Highway an hour early for our pick up, we sat and had a coffee, wondering out loud whether my boyfriend would dare to be late to get us, after I had offended him on the phone by suggesting he might be. He was, and his first words when he hopped out of the car were “You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?”.