Saturday 19th April – to Holly Hut and back

Woke around 8.30, amazing sleep!

Coffee and peanut butter/nutella sandwiches for breakfast

Sophie got fire going (I helped a bit)

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Had a nightmare with the radio. North Egmont Visitors Centre were supposed to make contact between 8:30-9 for safety check and weather report. My radio was only connecting intermittently, probably due to bad weather, so in the end they just called my mobile!

Raining, pouring, Sophie waited until you couldn’t hear the rain pounding against the windows and then left, disappearing into the mist. Was so lovely to have her there, very quiet without her, but we’d come up with a list of jobs for me to do, so a busy day ahead!!

Decided to keep warm I’d chop some more firewood. The rain was no longer coming into the entrance shelter so it seemed like a good time. Firewood and axe, legs apart, the chopping started – so much fun and remembering back to pt with Jel, great exercise!!

After about 20minutes I could hear shouts of hello – someone was coming! The was the 5 men Sophie had texted to tell me they were coming ‘5 good looking men’! Not long later 5 very wet men appeared! One offered to chop some wood – I’m sure to warm up – he was far better than me, but meant he didn’t get to chop for so long!!

Had a good chat with them – they had just walked up for the day. Made the fire roar, soon damp clothing smell filled the hut!

In a break in the rain I went out and attached the sign I’d been asked to bring up with me – easy once I’d found the right screwdriver – a square headed one….

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After lunch the weather did brighten up slightly, the guys were heading off, 2 ladies arrived from Holly Hut and I left them in charge of the fire while I walked back to where they’d come from.

My first time ever walking by myself, was exciting! The rain soon started again, the track was flooded, the steps full of water – what an adventure! Although you couldn’t see far/the view as it was so cloudy it is a lovely walk and wrapped up you don’t feel the weather and after the first time of water coming in through the top of your boots you stop worrying about wet feet!

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Not that I noticed at the time, but the walk to Holly Hut is mostly downhill/steps, a bit through a forest, more down and then everything opens out as you reach ‘the swamp’. The clouds were less around the swamp and you could see the river, up along the valley and more excitingly Holly Hut over the river in the distance!

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If it hadn’t been wet enough already, the swamp lived up to its name! The boardwalks were under water, those that weren’t were mini waterfalls of their own – great fun to walk along/through.

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After the swamp is more down and then you hit a river, the bank the other side is washed away, I wondered if I’d missed a turning, its only the orange markers, one on either bank, that indicate where you should cross and the path. I picked my route from the rocks not fully submerged and over I went. From there its only about 5 mins to the hut. But just before you reach it there’s a stream! Another route plan, a deep breath and safely over.

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I arrived to a busy hut full of drying clothes and people. I’d met 2 people on the walk heading to Pouakai from Holly saying there were 2 girls coming over and they were still in Holly (Ros and Rangi)! I had my lunch, they said I could walk with them, but they were off and I was still eating, so said I might catch them up.

Finished eating, topped up on water, went to the loo, back over the stream and the river, both of which were higher than when I arrived, had a fun run/walk through the swamp and after many steps up bumped into the 2 girls and their male friend Bart – they were midway through eating stroopwaffles!!

We walked the rest of the way back together which was lovely, walking alone was a great experience, but it’s always good to have people to share it with.

Was interesting, we were talking about travelling and things we’d done. I was saying this was the first time I’d walked alone, how I’d never do this at home and one of them said that travelling alone was a pretty brave thing to do and I laughed – I don’t even think about that anymore – I’m having such a great time, it’s become so normal, I no longer give it a second thought. Such a great feeling to know I’ve come this far.

We arrived at the hut around 4:30 to find loads of people in there – such a change from last night and the fire was roaring away – super cosy! Put dry clothes on – must get waterproof trousers for next time!

There were around 13 people in. Around 7pm 2 head torches appeared from up the hill to our excitement, then disappeared, then finally they came into the hut – they’d been into the bunk room and got changed! Bless them, the guys rucksack was no longer wateropf on top, but still waterproof at the bottom, so his sleeping bag was sat in a foot of water and was soaked. As they were cooking dinner they overhead us talking about how it was only around 90 minutes to walk back to the road – they couldn’t resist the temptation – dinner eaten they headed down, to their car, to a warm dry bed!!!

Stayed up chatting until nearly 10pm – crazy times!!!! Was staying in the wardens hut as it was busy in the bunk rooms, but it’s less than cosy….. Layered up, into sleeping bag, bit of Mr Bowie and then sleep!

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