Merriview private hut (km2904) – Ports Water Race Track (km2940)
Today was the coldest morning yet and I had a really hard time getting moving. At least it was clear and started warming up as soon as the sun rose over the hills…which wasn’t until 9 am. I could see my breath throughout most of the day.
The route followed an easy forestry road up to the beginning of the Longwood Forest track. This is the last bit of climbing and forest on the trail, and is reminiscent of the forests in the north at the start of the TA. The trees are all covered in moss and it is very muddy. The trail soon broke out into open tussock at the top of Bald Hill. Kate, Cathrine, and Justin were having a break near the cell towers, talking with 2 mountain bikers. I didn’t have a break, as the wind was too chill. We all walked down the service road together and I got so cold that I had to put my gloves on. Then it was back up a narrow trail to the top of another bald. Once again, there were great views of the southern coast and all the way to Bluff, my final destination on the TA. A succession of balds followed. These mountains are very broad and a gradual climb, so I wouldn’t really call it ridgeline walking.
On the way down to the last hut on the TA, the trail became excessively muddy. It was like the Raetea forest all over again, just not as a long. Everybody was struggling with it and poor Justin broke a trekking pole. I just powered through, not really caring about the trail conditions anymore. I planned to throw away my shoes at the end, anyways, with a new pair being sent to Invercargill. Mud!
The last hut, 1904 Martins Hut, was not great either: 4 bunks and pretty rustic. I decided to cover some more distance and tent one last night in the forest along the trail. It seemed a fitting end, given how much I used my tent at the beginning of the trip. Wired’s blog mentioned some flat spots near old mining machinery and it made for a decent campsite.
I spent the day recalling every day of my journey so far. I can remember each quite clearly, being able to cite where I woke up and were I went to sleep, along with most of the details in-between. I doubt if my memories would be as clear without the blog, so I am thankful for my dedication to it and for the dedication of all my readers who encouraged me to write it in the first place.
The feel of the last couple of days has been off, almost dreary. It’s cold, I’m travel weary, and I’m sad about the adventure almost being over. Also, the trail finishes in not the most exciting fashion. There are mostly towns along the way the next 3 days, with some more beach and road walking. After all the specter of the SI mountains, it can be a bit of a disappointment to finish in these settings. But it is what it is and I’ll just walk it to the end.