Day 136 (Sun 4 April): John Tait hut to St Arnaud
Started 7.20am (adjusted for the end of daylight savings), finished 2.05pm, 24k.
Pain in the head status: Not entirely nil due to a disturbed night but powered through.
Word of the day: Parthian shot, any hostile gesture or remark made in leaving; Parthian cavalrymen usually shot at the enemy while retreating or pretending to retreat.
The end of daylight savings meant that we could get up with the dawn and hit the trail early, without having to fumble around in the dark with torches hoping I’d packed everything. The partying and stay-up-late trampers were still abed when we left. The hut was strewn with their mess – unwashed dishes including a pot still laden with some indescribable dinner leftovers, an empty whisky bottle, opened food packets, a scattered pack of cards. My tidy soul was distressed and I almost wished this hut had rodents that had ravaged their supplies overnight. My Parthian shot to them was to stomp as loudly as I could over the deck as we exited – unfortunately this was not very loud, barely enough to disturb a hangover, so it was a weak revenge for the rowdy night.
It was another busy day in the park, with dozens more people passing by in a blur of large packs and pumping thighs. At least, that was until we reached Lakehead hut, where water taxis were dropping off day walkers to saunter along the track beside Lake Rotoiti back into St Arnaud. At this point, I could almost smell the food in St Arnaud. I hadn’t had an ice cream since Methven. I hadn’t had a shower since Boyle. The race was on, meaning we started overtaking walkers who had far less motivation to charge towards the comforts of civilisation.
We were still nature-minded enough to stop for lake and mountain views, and the odd mushroom. But once at St Arnaud, the first stop was the gas station/general store for hot chips and ice cream. Then we checked into the Alpine Lodge where we collected our very last food box. It started to sink in that we were nearing the end of our journey.
Day 137 (Mon 5 April): St Arnaud
Zero day. Washing, eating, looking at what lies ahead in the Richmond ranges. Small pleasures, like finding a tube of body balm in the lodge room, drinking tea with milk, not having feet in boots, hot cross buns.