15 Mar. The weather forecast had rain due in the afternoon, and as it was going to be a long day walking, Richard and I decided that an early start would be worthwhile with the hope of a dry finish. So the morning alarm set for 05:45. It was a cold damp night so tents were very wet with condensation. During the night we had mice scouting around our tents. Fortunately they didn’t chew their way into the inner fly, unlike Frank and Maria’s tent, who had to do a stitching repair later in the day. We were walking at 07:15.
Much of the day’s walking was on 4WD farm tracks, initially in the high country and gradually getting lower as the day progressed. One knee deep river crossing early on meant I had wet boots for the day. I wast trialling one pair of socks, but will be going back to two, as a few hot spots developed with wet socks and wet feet. The undulating terrain made it interesting and varied the pace; good for the feet.
We had an early lunch 11:00-11:45. The day will be remembered for the stiles. As it was farmland, there were numerous gates and fences, all with stiles. As the day wore on, it seemed to take more effort to haul myself over them. From walking through mud yesterday, today it was cow poop. We arrived at Birchwood in the dry at 16:15. 29 km in 9 hours with about 600m of climb. Overall we descended from 400m elevation at Telford to about 120m at Birchwood. While we still have some climbs left going to the coast, we leave the high country behind.
Our accommodation for the night is a private hut on a farm. Luxurious by normal DOC hut standards as it has power and a hot shower. $20 for the night well spent. The hut also has good mobile signal, so everyone was catching up on the latest coronavirus news, checking in with families and wondering how their international flights home would be affected.
A familiar crowd are in for the night: Richard, Frank, Maria, Svenja, Daisy, John, Allison. Lots of tents drying out. Dinner was mash, mixed veg, and tuna, good for food bulk. The rain is now due overnight and a wet start to walking is expected tomorrow.