Could a mountain top seriously have collapsed or eroded so much to scatter its debris in piles of rock further down the slope like it was?
Boulder hopping took poise, elegance and certainly balance as we climbed away from the hut towards the next saddle at 1,374m.
A misplaced footing to fall over onto the rugged boulder scree would have grazed, snapped, or convulsed, requiring first aid administration.
But the boulders were fascinating with a kaleidoscope red, crimson, brown or shit stain colours.
Beanies to protect the ears from the extreme gusty southerly were donned on just before a picture taken once summited the saddle. It was enough to chill the bones. And enough to detach BClaire’s pack cover to have one chase it like an Ostrich and retrieve before it was blown all the way to Nelson. Only metres to spare before the edge abyss.
And although it was head down following the orange route markers head on into the wind, when we lifted to take in the view, we could see last nights hut down one side of the mountain and, make out Hunters Hut from the moon landscape we were treading, way down and out across the other side.
We separated from Jane and Pip to each walk at our own paces. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened after the summit and negotiating the gale velocity.
The last river crossing before a short sharp ascent to the hut, had a piece of tin debris tangled in an embankment tree trunk. Another further down.
We wondered if it was the remains of Bush Edge hut that was swept away in a flash flood during February 1995. Two Dept of Conservation workers were staying in the hut at the time and sadly, both were killed.
One body was found. One with his dog wasn’t.
Which when Jane and Pip arrived and settled into hut routines, had us conversing if the ghost encounter experienced at the last hut, was the lost DOC workers spirit still wandering the trail.
A 1,000-piece puzzle at the hut kept us entertained as we hunted out edges and corners and flipped all the pieces right side up and then started constructing. Like eating potato chips or scorched almonds, once you start it’s hard to desist not eating more, puzzles are like that too. Once you start, just one more piece becomes ten! As we clumped colours and picture images together. Wasn’t the same once the light faded and head torch came out.
Nigh on turning in for the night and still sitting at the hut table, an apparition flew passed the hut window.
Scared the be-Jesus out of me as I only caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye. I’m sure my scream spooked the others who jumped. The hut door opened; the whites of our eyes were at full beam.
To our delight, in walked Katie.
She certainly was beaming after her day of missing Top Wairoa Hut to take on the extra section as well and make Hunters.
Heart palpitations still took a bit to return to normal as we shared our ghost encounter. And then seeing an apparition float passed the window. Katie had one of her own sharing the Mid Wairoa Hut with a fellow tramper when a noise like the sound of a paper book hitting a table thudded in their hut.
One more puzzle piece was placed and then shut eye.
The final thought, man, a scorched almond would have been nice.