We carry on across the flats, with marker poles, when they are visible, providing some guidance. A 100mm orange triangle is not at all easy to see beyond 50-100m, and the larger orange triangles, about 250mm high, are much more visible from a distance when they are used.
At one point a long, low ridge intrudes across the valley and we wonder how it was formed.
The fine drizzle continues, and the wind, though nowhere as cold as yesterday, is still persistent.
I wander'd lonely as a cloud
Hang on a minute....
One of the things I like about the drizzle is the three dimensional effect it provides which is not always present in clear air.
Once again, the track heads up onto the terraces above the river, in this case where the Rokeby hut is sited.
This is in the same mould as the cullers huts, but is slightly larger, and the Christchurch Over Forties Tramping Club has been putting some effort into improving facilities. It's occupied by an English chap heading the opposite direction. Carol, Ray and Frank left about ten minutes previously, he reckons.
At this point we make a tactical error. Hindsight suggests a much easier passage if we had returned to the river flat sign, and gone down the valley. As it is, we turn left over the Rokeby bridge and commit ourselves to a somewhat more strenuous and muddy half hour or so than might otherwise have been the case.
Once more unto the beech, dear friends....
The good news is that we have already done yesterday's distance, and Boyle hut is a bit over an hour away. I am still in relatively good shape, though a little tired.
From time to time the track gets a bit lumpy and it is just a bit more of an effort to lift my feet over the obstacles.
I take a large swig of water and instantly feel better. Dehydration can creep up unawares when it's a bit cold and wet and you don't necessarily feel thirsty. For me the clue is usually when my attention transfers from the path and the landscape to my inner discomfort, and it is surprising how much of this disappears with a mouthful of water and a piece of chocolate.
This year we have experimented with 2 litre plastic bladders from Kathmandu, which attach to the side of our packs with a mouthpiece over the shoulder, and we have been very pleased with the results, both in training and on the track. Just make sure you don't get the mouthpiece jammed between your back and your pack when you load up, as it will piss down the back of your shirt and trousers.
The drizzle is clearing slightly, though it's getting noticeable colder as we pass mid-afternoon
Just here the track heads uphill again, but we can see what's ahead and we reckon we'll have to climb quite high to bypass it. We elect to remain in the valley, and that was a wise choice.
There's more up and down still to go, though,
and often quite a detour to avoid boggy areas where the side creeks make their way across the flats.
No question, we're walking to get there at this stage.
Over a ridge, where Miranda is waiting for me to catch up, and here we are.
The bridge looks considerably slacker than others we have seen, and instead of 50mm diamond mesh, the cables are enclosed by 250mm sheep mesh. Just as impossible to fall through, but psychologically flimsy.
Up through the trees to the hut, where Carol, Frank and Ray have a fire going, and a pot of water on the boil.