The day started really early. Around midnight actually. My toe...yeah that old chestnut...was throbbing.
"My toe hurts..."
In the half-sleep I'd been imagining gangrene, amputation and a rescue helicopter. I wasn't going to get much sleep and would be spending tomorrow complaining. Whiona didn't really have much choice.
The headlamp and first aid kit were produced and the operation commenced.
Needles. Iodine. Swabs.
By eight the next morning the hut was empty. Willy and Dave travel big distances and like an early start.
The rain had cleared and it looked like we were in for a good day.
Up and round the corner and a cold wind was blasting off the dark Takitimus. Mount Doom. Last night's rain had just taken a break and looked like it would be joining us for our walk later in the day.
I said the a blog or two back that Kerearea don't soar like hawks. The one that hovered fifty metres away proved me wrong. As it rode the strong winds it dived then rose then dived again before disappearing over a nearby drop. Chasing Finches, Titipounamu, Tom Tits. Breakfast.
They've been a constant presence since Longwood Forest. The most common "big" bird of the trip.
We were both drained of energy but the country was so spectacular that we soon forgot about our miserable muscles. We felt like we were out talent scouting for Lord of the Rings scenery.
The landscape we traveled through alternated between boggy valleys full of giant (up to six feet high if you stretched it out) tussock and small fingers of beech forest.
The windy tussockland was criss crossed with brooks and a path that was hard to make out as we stepped through the hyperactive grass.
We walked in and out of shallow valleys that were framed by movie-grade rocky outcrops.
The wind blew. The grass swirled around us. We walked on.
As we ate lunch in the sun we wondered how Peter Jackson could film a horse chase in this landscape. They'd have to CGI all the action because the horses would get stuck in the bog.
When we left the burnt sienna of the tussock behind us we were greeted by some"real" tramping country.
Cornucopia. There I said it.
It's not the kind of word I like to bandy about. But I can't think of another.
The last section of beech forest that was to take us to our hut contained a cornucopia of plant life.
We'd almost forgotten what a healthy forest looked like. We often couldn't see where we going for the rich undergrowth. The path was choked with life.
It was steep. It was raining. It was misty. Bush Lawyer tore at our legs. Onga Onga threatened us from all sides.
Shit it was good.
We were leaving the Takitimus on a high. Even my toes were happy and we had the fire at Princhester Hut to ourselves.
One last note: Last night we raised a toast of cool clear Takitimu rain to Gordon. His ashes are scattered nearby. We're pretty sure your mum misses you Gordon.