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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

Day 88

November 29th, 2015

Nov 27 day 88 Glenrock Stream to Comyns Hut 7:15-11:15 16 km

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Today I saw the truth of the old adage “red sky in morning, sailors take warning.” I woke at 5:00 and saw out the window a magnificent and ominous red sky accompanied by strong winds. Had coffee with another of the Blue Pub guests–a truck driver regarding the winds with some concern. It was still Thanksgiving back in States, so with the help of some free street-side Spark wifi, I was able to FaceTime briefly with the family who were in NYC. I hated to miss Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, but the trail (and the bus I was to catch to get to the trail) beckoned, and after picking up a meat pie at the Four Square, we were off up a windy and windy road. Had great conversation with the driver who had spent time in the US. At the trailhead the wind was very powerful, and there were some sprinkles, but also much blue sky and the Methven weather had just called for some morning showers, so off I went. The first part was up through some pastures, and I felt at first as if I were back on the North Island except soon the landscape changed dramatically. The steep hills were basically treeless and covered with brown grass. At erosion points, the hills showed their foundations– basically they were huge piles of gravel covered with a thin layer of soil. Still, the trail was well-formed and I made good time the first 10 km to the A-frame hut. By the time I got there, the rain was really starting to come down and I should have gotten out all my heavy weather gear, but after a brief stop I decided to head on to the next hut–Comyns– which was only 6 km away. While in the A-frame I recognized the pack and gear belonging to Jan from the Czech Republic. We had been in a hut together on the north island above Taumaranui and I had been a few days behind him for some weeks now. I didn’t see Jan until after I left and had reached the ridge above the hut. He appeared, walking back and we exchanged waves. In retrospect, I probably should have stayed there as the wind was soon strong enough to make me stagger, and the rain became intense and horizontal. I was only wearing light gear and had some concern about heat loss in those conditions, particularly since I had a number of wet stream crossings. But the trail was good and the wind usually at my back, so I covered the 6 km to Comyns in a little over an hour, arriving very wet and cold. Comyns is an odd old hut, completely made of steel– corrugated steel siding attached to a structural steel frame, all of which rocks and rolls In the wind (even the door is steel). There were plenty of holes for the wind and rain to enter and no firewood for warmth or to dry clothes. Shivering, I peeled off wet layers and put on dry, made soup for lunch, hung my clothes to drip, and crawled into a sleeping bag for warmth, remembering that just yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the sun at the Blue Pub sipping a cold beer, and that back home people were sitting down to a meal that was likely much more than ramen noodles. But no self pity here, I’m still on an amazing trek seeing incredible beauty at every turn. A hard cold wet day is just part of that brutal beauty.

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