18 Mar. It was good to be walking at 08:20 in the fresh air after a night in a hut strongly smelling of rat urine and droppings. However as we found out from Roy and Sirkka later in the day, even camping in Longwood forest, rats will try to chew their way into tents. They were awake all night fending them off.
The route today was down the hill for a couple of km and turn right along the Ports Water Race Track. As an old mining water race it followed a contour so no climbs, but it did meander and involved scrambles in washed out sections, so we needed to walk 15km to cover 7 km grid squares.
Leaving Longwood forest was the last of the back country bush on the trail. The three days left to Bluff would be through rural and urban areas so it felt like the end of the wilderness walking I enjoy.
A 7km road walk took us into Colac Bay campsite where Richard had booked cabin bunks. Lucky he did, as there were a lot of TA walkers, 22 in all, and were half filled the bar in the evening. Most were familiar faces. We shared a room with Gail who had wisely given the Longwood stretch a miss and Aliss was doing it on her own, expecting to be in tomorrow. The others included: Jimmy, John, Anouk, Jean, Anne-Marrie, Frank, Maria, Roy, Sirkka, Al, Grant, along with some new faces. I met Josh and Nina (Luxembourg and Germany) who Richard had spent a lot of time walking with on North Island.
I had time for some admin tasks: a much needed shower, laundry, tent drying and a boot and gaiter wash to remove the caked mud. I thought I was having network problems with my phone, but after calling 2Degrees, they suggested my SIM card was faulty. No outgoing or incoming calls. Will have to find a replacement SIM card.
Today was 25 km in 8:20 hours. Bar meal of fish, chips and salad followed by chocolate sponge and ice cream. No rats tonight, just some campers who had too much drink and were still had loud music on at 1am!