Day 87. 17 Jan To Browning Hut. 1,846 km

The sign said 2.5 hours to Middy Hut and another 3 to Rocks Hut, then 4.5 hours to Brownings Hut. A 10 hour day but it would make the next day shorter and I had a 4pm pickup that day.

The notes showed that it was steep and rocky so I had a bit of a sleep in after deciding I was best to have some company a bit closer today. There was 4 swing bridges to cross but I am now doing them very confidently after doing some work on my subconscious.

I was still first to leave but soon overtaken by a kiwi lad and the the fast young German girl. The track was nice through beech Forest and I was making good time getting to Middy hut in just 2 hours. As I was decendung to the hut I heard a man calling out. At first I thought it was whoops of joy at reaching the hut but the calls continued. They sounded as though they were ahead of me so i had a quick lou break then carried on uphill as fast as I could thinking someone was in distress. Was it the Kiwi lad? I couldn’t actually go any faster than my usual pace but the calls continued for about 30 minutes until I then heard a helicopter in the distance. Not ahead if me but behind me. As soon as I heard the helicopter the calls ceased. Maybe I was hearing the echo and the calls were coming from behind me.

Okay I thought, the person had set off their beacon and was now waiting quetly for rescue. The helicopter seemed quite a long way from me and didn’t appear to hang around long. Maybe it was some of the ones coming in behind me. Or someone in another track maybe.

Anyway I eventually arrived at Rocks Hut to find the kiwi lad and the German girl were already there and all okay.

I decided to stay until the others arrived to make sure they were alright. So I hung out my tent, sleeping bag and sweaty clothes  in the sun, ate my lunch then settled down for a nana nap.

Eventually the others all arrived. Some had heard the calls and helicopter but thought they were in another direction. I will see what I can find out when I get to town.

We left at  3.30 pm with 4.5 hours to go. We being German Anouk and her parents who were on the last days of their 3 weeks hiking with their daughter.  I have been meeting up each evening with them since before Wellington and enjoy their company. The parents will end their hiking in Nelson so will pop out the same way as me and get a ride into town with me by my brother, Nigel

We passed through a huge area if storm damaged trees. Massive amounts of trees were down like pick up sticks. A track had been cut through them but it was still a bit of a scramble under over and around. I was glad to have company.

About 4km from the hut we came to a clearing with amazing views over the Richmond Ranges and down to the Tasman Bay. The Dutchies decided to camp for the night and enjoy their last night together in the wilderness under the stars.

I carried on down hill to the hut taking another 1.5 hours and arriving at 8pm. I decided to sleep in the hut with 2 other TA hikers but in hindsight I should have put up my tent.

Browning Hut

The hut was frequented by sandflies, noisy mosquitoes, and rats scratching in the ceiling. The mossies were the most annoying as I can hear them even with my earplugs in. At least in my tent I can kill them off before I sleep and then know I am safe for the night.

They say that the sandflies double in number and size every 100 km as we go down the South Island. Looking at the size of the ones here I reckon this is not just a myth. They were huge.