Ever Tripped Over a Tree Stump?
The Boyle Flats hut is, I think, older than the other main huts on the track, and even though the armchairs referred to in one set of track notes are long gone, it is still a touch more comfortable. The window seat is padded, for example, and the food prep areas are a little more elaborate. The floor is tongue and groove rather than particle board.
These second level huts vary from the Heaphy huts in several ways: no inside water supply, no gas cooking facilities, no pots and pans supplied, no detergent or cleaning cloths and no toilet paper. In other respects however, they are fully as comfortable as anything on the great walks.
There's a dress code here, too
We head out and back across the suspension bridge.
Across a hillside pasture a couple of DoC arrows are in no doubt which way we should go. Carol waves to us from the hut across the river as we pass.
The Boyle Valley is now quite narrow, and the track takes us right up into the forest above the river.
The cloud is still low, but there's no drizzle and it's pleasant walking.
A somewhat weathered sign introduces us to Lake Sumner Forest Park, a DoC reserve reaching all the way down to Arthur's Pass.
We wind on around ridges and gullies, and we may be fitter after 5 days on the go, but they seem kinder, less dramatically uphill and down, than those on the first day through Cannibal Gorge.
Miranda insists on a photo opportunity
It's pleasant walking and there seems to me a slightly richer variety of plant life along the edge of the track than I saw yesterday.
to say nothing of the rich greens of the mosses
We're quite high up in the bush right now. Sidling, but a more comfortable form than open hillsides offer. I still much prefer being in the landscape, not on it.
If I want to complete the Routeburn next year, I'm going to have to work on this.
Hallo! What have we here by the side of the path?
It's a nettle. I'm not sure whether it's Urtica ferox, (ongaonga), or whether it's one of the (relatively) harmless introduced ones. The leaves look a little rounded for ongaonga. I'm not going to touch it to find out, at any rate.
There's a small patch of filmy ferns, too. Often when I sight these they're all dried and shrivelled, but it doesn't take a lot of rain to have them opening out again in all their beauty.
In the meantime the track has been heading steadily downwards again towards the river
which is a deal larger and more vigorous than the toy stream we met further up the valley yesterday
Here's a good reason never to walk too close to the edge of anything, especially if there's an appreciable drop-off underneath:
That's clear water, all right.