I wake again after going back to bed when my 5am foray to check out the sunrise showed me we had our head in the clouds. It’s around 6:30am and I’ve had a fitful sleep – my earplugs aren’t fitting comfortably and there’s at least two of my bunk mates that had a snorechestra going on in the night. Every sound outside is muted by the mist and it’s still warm despite the grey day. We make coffee and breakfast and I sit and write my morning pages before we head off.
Today it’s all downhill through quiet beech forests that are soft underfoot. Even the birdsong seems muffled today, like the mist has instilled a quiet in everything. It feels incredibly peaceful and quite magical. I find a shining cuckoo feather on the path in front of me – we hear these birds a lot at our place but very rarely see them, so I will keep this as a reminder of my trip as well as to celebrate our birdlife at home.
We make it down to Waiopaoa Hut in just over 2 hours, walking at what feels like a comfortable pace. This hut is a bit fancier than the one at Panekire and we claim our bunks in a small front bunk room, then head to the lake for a fully-clothed swim. It’s the perfect way to cool off, wash off the sweat and clean our clothes! The sandflies here are ferocious though, so we dress quickly in our ‘evening wear’ and cover all exposed parts with insect repellant. Both of us opt for a snooze in the afternoon. I regret this later when I have another dreadful sleep.
There’s swallows nesting in the woodshed here and they tear in and out of there like boomerangs – so fun to watch.
We have wine and jerky and a bit of a read, then play a couple of hands of canasta over dinner before having another early night.