I cooked my breakfast of vanilla oats and coffee while watching the increasing numbers of sandflies clinging to the mesh of my tent. They were like a miniature pack of lions waiting for the wildebeest to come to the water to drink. They knew I’d have to leave the tent at some time and I was desperate to pee. To minimize my time outside I used an old ziploc bag to pee into. Its common for thru hikers to pee into ziploc bags at night when it’s cold, then empty them out in the morning. It works surprisingly well just make sure it doesn’t have any holes.
When I did make my move the wind picked up and they quickly disappeared. They hate wind. It wasn’t long before I reached the swing bridge that led to Boyle Flat hut. My old hiking buddy Jazzus was making his way across. We hiked together for a couple of hours to the main highway.
I had a problem. My hiking shoes are completely destroyed. They have holes and are torn in several places. I fear that they will fall apart on me somewhere on the trail. Despite having enough food to hike another 100km to my next food box I chose to get off the trail and either buy a new pair or have my next pair mailed to me further down the trail.
Jazzus and I hitched 55km to the nearest town of Hanmer Springs. A tourist town with a great quality YHA hostel. We both checked in for the night after devouring some fish and chips. Many hikers were there taking a day off and many others arrived throughout the day, including a guy Callum whom I hadn’t seen since about day 10.
The following day I had organized for my shoes to be sent to me further down the trail. With my main chore completed it was time to head back to the trail. Then the rain started. I was packed up sitting in the reception area of the hostel. 10am then 11am and it was still raining. By 2pm the rain was still pouring down. I checked in for another night. The thought of being out in the rain didn’t appeal to me. I wasn’t the only one. Many hikers stayed longer. I did enjoy the town food.
The following day the weather cleared. I had to hitch hike back to the start of the trail. An older gentleman wearing a skirt picked me up for the 50km. An interesting ride.
The hike led me up an expansive river valley to the first hut. It was a large 20 person hut that included 3 bedrooms, a large kitchen/dining area and running water in the sink. It was also full. I think I got the last bed. Despite a short day of hiking I was fatigued and first one to sleep, even though the sun was yet to set.
During the night the stars were yet again shining bright as the Milky Way galaxy spun through the night sky. The sandflies were sleeping when I got out of my tent to enjoy the stars and water the bushes. But my normal pre dawn wake up routine didn’t happen. The sun was shining when I woke.
The trail started slowly with rocky river crossings and confusing traverses across rock falls and avalanche zones. But once it entered the flat valley it was like the hiking version of an autobahn. Super fast, super flat hiking where I made very good speed.
I passed the 2000km mark on the trail without even knowing it. The fast trail had me zoning out to the Game of Thrones audiobook series. Only 80 hours till I finish all the books, I’m sure I’ll finish them before the end of the trail.
10am photo below
While zoning out to my books I saw a new InReach Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) on the trail. Without stopping I reached down, picked it up and clipped it to the shoulder strap of my backpack. 15 minutes later a girl was hiking northbound. She was the Austrian owner of the PLB. We hiked together for a couple of hours till we caught up to a large group of about 8 hikers, including Dylan and Martina. It was late afternoon by this time so when we reached Anne Hut I stopped to have a large pasta dinner. Everyone decided to stay at the hut but I had athletic levels of energy and just couldn’t stop. I just had to keep on hiking.
Over a small pass, down a long river valley and across several streams and I still didn’t feel like stopping. I kept on hiking till I reached and old run down hut. It was covered in dirt and must have been 50 years old and not seen any form of cleaning for at least 10 years.
It was getting late but I still had serious levels of energy so I kept on hiking. Sunset was at 9pm which is when I settled in making camp for the night. In a long flat valley surrounded by mountains I set up my tent next to a rocky river stream. The sound of the babbling brooke should assist in making it a restful night. Then the sandflies arrived. Hundreds of them. I rushed to put up the tent then rushed inside. Never ever cook with your stove inside a tent. Do as I say, not as I do. I cooked up a hot chocolate and devoured the rest of my shortbread cookies.