We were in for a short day so didn't rush to leave after breakfast.
We'd sorted the dropbox we'd sent through to the Village and our packs were brimming (heavy).
Bill, a retiree who works and/or helps at the village told us we'd missed the hot pools the night before by about 400 metres.
They weren't really a secret but locals had removed all of DoC's warning signs apparently. You know...those annoying but sensible signs that cover their arse if some sort of calamity occurs. We call them Cave Creek signs.
We gave Bill the last of our field mushrooms and the excess food from the dropbox, then headed off for our short day's walk up the Saint James Walkway to Boyle Flat Hut.
We're not religious but the Saint James Walkway has a bit of meaning for us...if meaning is the right word.
In Spain there is a very fashionable and historic walkway called the Camino de Santiago - Spanish for The Path of Saint James.
Legend has it that James' remains were smuggled along the route of the trail, way back when.
Those remains now lie interred in a rather large building full of men dressed in some very fancy clobber. For several hundred years these men, and possibly some women who don't get to wear the same fancy dress, play host to seemingly endless streams of pilgrims who walk the trail for their faith, a challenge, or to write a book about the experience in the hope that it'll get made into a movie.
After doing the Camino pilgrims go to Mass at Santiago de Compostela then go to the beach nearby and pick scallop shells from the shoreline as a keepsake.
These shells have become a symbol of both Saint James and his walkway. They are also coming to symbolise trail walking and pilgrimages in general.
We like walking and a few years back thought we'd like to "do" the Camino...until we realised we had our own pilgrimage or trail right here in Godzone...Te Araroa.
We'd picked up scallop shells as we left the beach near Riverton nine weeks ago and have carried them dangling on our packs ever since.
Yesterday in Hanmer, an excited German guy followed us off the street and into a supermarket to ask us why we were carrying Camino shells. We'd forgotten we even had them on, but explained the story behind them and told him to check out the Te Araroa website.
So with that day on the Riverton beach in mind we set off up "our" Saint James Walkway to Boyle Flat Hut.
The trip was easy. We followed a valley up through beech forest until we came to a big river crossing with a wire bridge.
It was lunch time and there was a detour of a kilometre to a hut called Magdalen - another religious reference?
Since we were early we decided to go check it out.
It checked out fine but as we were walking back to the main track Whiona made a worrying observation.
"I can't see how we can possibly make it to Picton in time for me to get back to work."
I'd had my doubts too but without a calendar, any proof and the mathematical skills of a seven-year-old, said:
"Why don't we walk past Boyle Flat Hut and go on to the next one"
The next one is called Anne Hut and is a further 15 kilometres on from Boyle Flat.
"OK," said Whiona.
Fourteen kilometres became 31 kilometres, plus the extra two to Magdalen.
Here's another observation about energy levels and track fitness.
Until Whiona suggested that we weren't going to make it home on time I have been feeling exhausted. My day was a drag. Every step was a drain on my depleted energy reserves.
All it took was a little bit of doubt, worry and adrenaline and I was off. It was like I'd been given a can of Red Bull, or we'd sat on the side of the track and lit up a pipe of some sort of illegal and euphoria-inducing powder.
We stormed on. Determined to get to work on time.
The Saint James is a really good track. The well-kept path makes its way through flat grassy valleys alongside a small river. Occasionally it moves into beech forest before popping back out to what amounts to meadow.
We stopped at Boyle Flat for some food and a cuppa then charged on at 4.30.
We arrived at Anne River at 8.45 and in the dark.
It was Saturday night and the place was overflowing with trampers, cyclists and hunters.
The hunters were out hunting, but the rest were either in bed or getting ready for bed. It was a bit of a let down as we'd been fantasising about having a big slap-up meal from our newly replenished larder.
Instead, we sat on the deck and drank a cupful of wine each before blowing up our mattresses and attempting to sleep on the porch near one of the cyclists who said he always slept outside because he snored.
The hunters arrived as we started to drift off. One of them joined us.
It was a beautiful night for porch sleeping...then the mice came out...
Note: You'll notice an absence of photos on this post. Sorry...I'm not sure what happened. I was either too tired or too excited to think about the scenery. But I also have a strange feeling that the scenery wasn't all that photogenic.