Dec 21 day 112 Otautau – Merrivale trailhead to Martin Hut 7:45-4:15 28 km
One of the first very hot days but also incredibly windy, particularly up on the balds. Good solid day of walking once again on difficult surface. In the hut book, one of the thru hikers (Keith who has been one week ahead this whole trip) compared today’s surface to the Raetea swamp, which I thought was the worst trail I’d ever hiked. Parts of today were a close second. Guess they don’t want us to finish with ease. The Martin Hut is best described as rustic (again, going out with a bang). The water was clogged, and when I opened the barrel, I decided to scout out some water from a nearby stream instead. It’s hard to be sentimental about difficult tasks, but that will be the last water scouting expedition on this trail as I hike down off the ridge tomorrow, and the rest is hiking on the beach from town to town. When you get to Maine while hiking the AT, everyone starts looking for Katadhin–a massive singular mountain rising up in the middle of the state. I think Bennett and I were in the Bigelows on the first clear day where we saw it– the destination. Bluff isn’t imposing in the same way, but it is the bottom of the country, next stop Antarctica. Today up on the ridge I could see the sweep of the bay bending to Invercargil and the hills that make up Bluff and adjacent territory. The view really was of the end of the world.