14 Feb. Jen and Lisa were starting early so I was up at 06:45 and off at 08:00. It was the flattest day so far, without even a small climb. After a few km the route was a 4-wheel drive track all the way, criss-crossing the Harper River at least every km. Must have been about a dozen north bound trail walkers coming the other way and we stopped briefly to share route information.
Arrived at Harper Road at 12:30 and had a snack lunch. That was 20km of flat walking on a good track in 4.5 hours. The walking surface and climb has a big impact on speed.
I was hoping to hitch the 30km gravel road to Lake Coleridge and then on to Methven, another 40km, There is very little traffic on the rural roads, but most vehicles on this road will give lifts. A NIWA ute did stop as they didn’t want to drive past me without saying that company policy prevents them from picking up hitchhikers. Nice of the guys to let me know.
Next to stop were Charlie and Jack from Tamworth and Notingham. They are over from UK on working holiday visas on Lake Coleridge Station. Today they were fixing fences and gave me a lift 10 km down Harper Road. Jen and Lisa ahead of me had started walking the road as there were so few vehicles, but we picked them up for a very short ride. We were about half way down Harper Road and ready for hitching again. Jen and Lisa started walking.
The next pickup truck stopped as I was switching from my trainers to boots for walking. Merv was driving home from a job on Lake Coleridge Station. He is the head mechanic with Stuart Tarbotton Contracting and had been repairing some heavy machinery on the station. Fortunately for me his home journey took him through Methven. Great conversation about engineering, hunting, family and life. As a two seater pickup he didn’t have the room for Jen and Lisa, but we stopped to let them know. I didn’t see any of the others from the hut and assume they went to the Harper Road Campsite.
Got to Methven about 15:30 but as I unloaded my gear from Merv’s truck I couldn’t find my phone. Checked under seats but it wasn’t in the truck. Merv kindly gave me his contact details. I last had my phone in the truck with Charlie and Jack, so it had to be somewhere between Lake Coleridge and Methven.
Besides all my journey photos and all the usual smart phone stuff, it has my maps and trail notes. Due to the distance, it isn’t practical to carry paper maps, so the loss was a major issue. The only course of action was to try and find it. There weren’t too many locations to check so I hired a Toyota minibus from Tony and Kate at Barker Lodge and drove back to Lake Coleridge Station. Nothing found at any of the roadside locations or in Charlie and Jack’s truck. Driving back to Methven I was planning how to get a replacement and get everything set up again. However the first thing I needed was a replacement SIM card as I carry an old school phone (just in case of such situations!). Back at the Methven Mobil garage at about 18:00 while selecting SIM cards, I happened to mention that I needed a replacement as I had lost my phone. Bob behind the counter asked me what type; he had it. Some honest person had found it on the forecourt. Someone else was looking after me. 😊
After seeing more of the Methven area than I had planned, I checked in with Stephanie at the Abisko Lodge. She asked how come I had a van if I was trail walking. Not the last time I would have to tell this story!
Dinner at the Dubliner pub. Steak and ale pie with mash followed by cheese cake. Busy with valentine diners but I was happy to be dining with my phone. 👍