We spent the night with a group of virgins.
Seven Maori guys from Christchurch who'd never been in the bush before.
Never been in a hut. Never slept on a DoC mattress.
When we'd asked an American couple, who'd passed them on their way in, about the big group they'd said were about to arrive, they couldn't tell where they were from.
"We don't know. They've got accents."
We'd expected Germans...or perhaps something exotic like Norwegians.
The guys arrived in the hut shattered. One had panicked and had to be "rescued". His mates had had to carry his pack in for him and coax him up and over the pass.
When they arrived in the hut they went to bed. At about six o'clock.
I think they were shy and a bit shocked at what they'd just been through.
As they slowly recovered, they came into the kitchen and got into hut life.
They'd struggled but were proud of their achievement and were impressed by the beauty of the mountains. While the older guys made tea the younger ones read Wilderness Magazine and checked out the ads for light gear.
They didn't see the article asking why Maori don't go tramping.
I don't know for sure, but I think they were inspired to do more.
We left them to it in the morning. They enjoyed their bacon, eggs and baked bean breakfast, but probably won't be carrying in the massive two element gas cooker and bottle they used to cook it all next time.
The Deception River track is an impressive thing. It was early March and red Rata was still flowering about us as we made our way down the sometimes steep track that is really just a stream bed.
Much of the day was spent rock hopping on boulders that were the size of rooms.
Birds called and flew across the narrow valley constantly. At one stage we came across a very narrow area that was full of Tui and Bellbirds calling and swooping from tree to tree. There was purple bird shit everywhere.
The thing that surprised us about the commotion wasn't the amount of birds and their droppings, it was the trees they were feeding on.
Tutu is one of New Zealand's most poisonous plants. We've only really seen it as shrubs that choke track entrances and stream beds. Until recently I'd always assumed it was a foreign weed - it looks so unusual. We'd never seen Tutu as a tree and here was a small valley of Tutu trees.
We learned later that bird's digestive tracts can't digest the highly toxic seeds. This means the birds get a good feed and the Tutu gets spread around the country.
Apparently the flesh of the berry tastes alright...but don't try it...it could kill you.
As the valley widened we came across Huw. A young English guy who we found out later would love to have our babies.
News of this extraordinary offer came to us via the TeA Telegraph and stems from the fact that we left a bag of dehydrated mushroom risotto back at Goat Pass Hut.
It was a pleasure Huw, but we've had to put your proposition in the "too hard basket".
If you haven't already gathered, food is a very serious thing when you're walking TeA.
Shortly after we met Huw, Red Bear came running round the corner. He was trying to catch Huw but kindly stopped for a photo op...in the middle of a warm, sulphuric stream that was full of the most psychedelic green slime we'd ever seen.
Thanks Red Bear.
The spectacularness of the track kind of peters out as the valley widens. Gorse chokes the flat areas and the closed-in mountains spread out to become soggy West Coast valleys.
We walked the last few kilometres out to the road as light rain started.
We crossed the Morrison Footbridge, walked to the road, put our thumbs out and promptly got a lift into the rain of Arthur's Pass.
A job well done.