March 9, 2017
km traveled today: 20
total TA km: 2835 (off trail about one km)
We woke up after a freezing night at Telford Camp. Getting out of our sleeping bags was near impossible, but we did so in a timely fashion so as to get started on our 41 km day to the start of the Island Bush Track. Throwing the fly door over the side of the tent, I saw a healthy pile of frost fall to the ground, indicating just how frozen our tents really were.
We had eaten breakfast in the tents to stay out of the cold for even a few extra minutes, but we couldn’t hide forever and by around 8:00 we were on our way. The sun has been rising after 7:30 recently, and walking in the dark and the freezing cold does not particularly interest us.
The day began with some nice flat walking toward a crossing of Telford Burn, which we managed to do without getting our feet wet given the low flow. Then started the four wheel drive track which took us up and around huge hilly sheep fields. The walking was easy and the views of the surrounding rolling hills were great. The worst part of our day came when we watched a paralyzed half-paralyzed sheep tumble unfortunately down a steep hill. We don’t think that sheep will be around much longer, may he rest in peace.
Despite an abundance of sheep poo, the walking carried on very nicely, eventually bringing us to a gravel station road. The road climbed an easy 200 net meters, making sure to undulate plenty along the way helping us to log our daily quota of P.U.D.S. (pointless ups and downs, thanks again Penny for the term).
The gravel road continued up to Mt Linton (for which the surrounding station is named) and back down again. Once we bottomed out again, we found ourselves quite hungry for lunch and decided to aim for a bridged stream just before reaching a paved road section of the day.
We ate lunch under the shade of a few large pines with good access to the stream at km 2834. During lunch we decided to further investigate the idea of stopping our day just a few km ahead at Birchwood Station, a shearer’s quarters advertised on some slips we found in Aparima Hut.
By cutting this day in half, we would be adding km’s to our upcoming days but without ever having to exceed 40 km in a day. Plus we’d get the benefit of a sweet bunkhouse on a beautiful farm during our last week on trail. Decision made, we gave the station owners Dean and Sarah a ring (there’s cell coverage pretty much as soon as you hit road in this area), walked the easy couple kilometers to their place, and settled into their sweet cabin.
There’s a bunkroom, kitchen, bathroom, fireplace, and washing machine. The porch overlooks the station’s fields with a great view of their gorgeous white horse.
A northbound section-hiker named Ziggy(?) was posted up on the porch soaking his foot. He explained he screwed up his foot and knee coming down the forest too quickly the other day, and is resting up here for a few days.
We all relaxed, read, did laundry, and enjoyed our half day. Dinner was a big fat spaghetti followed by a great hot shower and a few rounds of hearts.
Ziggy has his laptop, and using some spark data, we all watched the final hour (where we left off at the last town) of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I on it. Sweet thru-hiking activity: streaming a movie in the middle of nowhere on a new friend’s laptop.
Now we’re feeling nice and cozy in our bags on nice mattresses in the bunkroom, ready to bust out 36 km tomorrow to camp in Longwood Forest, our last days in the woods on trail. Plenty excited.