17 Mar. It was a very cold night and with the rain yesterday, the tent was soaked with condensation. Richard and I were up at 05:45, and the hut occupants were up soon after. We all got away at about the same time 07:25.
The first 12km was a 700m climb to Bald Hill, initially gravel road and forest roads, them finally muddy forest tracks. Mud was the theme of the day. Just before we got to Bald Hill at 11:00, one leg sank up to my knee in a muddy patch. My long gaiters stopped mud getting inside my boot.
Al and Grant passed us on the way up and were having a snack on the hill as we arrived, but pressed on. After an hour for our snack lunch and cup of tea, we were off again to our next high point which we could see in the distance, Longwood. After a few km on forest roads, it was forest and ridge top tracks, all very muddy. The afternoon was Richard’s turn to go in up to his knee. The overall day was 29 km in 10:35 with 1200m climb.
Arriving at Martins Hut (4 bunks) Al and Grant were already there and had the fire going. Martins Hut has the reputation of being tat infested and we were planning to camp. But the track we had walked had no camping areas and we were unsure how far we would have to go on to find one. Rat company didn’t seem too bad an option at the end of a long day. John came in later and slept on the hut floor. Dinner was beef stroganoff dehy. Everyone packed their packs and hung them from the hut rafters. I had a top bunk and needed to clear the rat droppings from the mattress before putting my sleeping bag out. However it did give me a good view of our nocturnal visitor, I think there was only one. Rope is useless for preventing rat access to hanging packs. They are good climbers. Wire is the only thing. Rats have a good nose for food. Al had his pack chewed through. I have been fortunate with my pack made of Dyneema fabric which is harder than nylon.