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Day 125 Chasing Butterflies and old friends 

Wednesday 12 February Beyond Waiau Hut to past Anne Hut Start 8.30 am Finish 5.20pm Distance 26km Total 2037km Steps 42,584 Elevation: up 400m, down 100m. Very gradual both up and down. Weather: continues to be stunning

I woke first at dawn then fell asleep again, as I was in no rush. Not that I ever am. I awoke again with the sun streaming onto my face and the sound of rain on the tent. After a couple of minutes assessing how there was rain coming out of a cloudless sky, I realised I was in fact under attack. A battalion of kamikaze sandflies were trying to penetrate my tent walls. All the sandflies from last night had brought their mates and they thought by sheer volume they could get to eat my blood. This called for drastic action. Everything that could be done inside the tent was. Before braving the battlefield I armoured up, including gloves and beanie. The only skin showing was my face. I faced the enemy. They swarmed my leggings. A single brush of my hand down my leg saw dozens killed. It was a blood bath. Fortunately not my blood. I was too ninja quick at slapping my own face for the little buggers to get me.Eventually I outran them. A 3km an hour pace will do it. At a 1km an hour saunter the fastest among them can catch up. They have gathered at my tent again this evening. I think I will have to get up earlier tomorrow before they arrive.

The rest of the day was far less traumatic. The walking was easy, primarily on grassy tundra and relatively flat. I amused myself by watching butterflies and trying to take photos of them. No sooner had I taken my camera out, the butterfly would fly away. If they do stay put they have a habit of closing their wings to make themselves as skinny as possible, and blend into the grass. I managed a couple of reasonable photos and will try again tomorrow. There are so many different ones. You don't appreciate how many until you start looking. The hikers that race past me with their earphones in don't realise what they are missing.

I arrived at Anne Hut mid afternoon. I stopped to fill in the hut book and as I was taking off my boots I looked through the window and did a double take. There was Kathryn and Peter. The Nelsonians who started the TA the same day as me. I could not believe they were there. Particularly as I had read their Facebook about a week ago and they had just completed the Sabine Circuit from St Arnaud. I assumed they were a long way ahead of me. Their plan now is to pick and choose parts of the TA they want to do, and add in other tracks of interest. So they are currently walking the St James track, some of which is also the T and hence banging into them again. It was so lovely catching up and hearing their plans and where some of the others we mutually know now are. A number have dropped out or doing their own thing.

I was very tempted to stay at the hut for the night with the good company and it is a stunning hut. However it is 30km from there to Boyle Village. I reach my "I'm not really enjoying this anymore" limit at 30km, so wanted to do a few more kms today to make tomorrow relaxing.

So here I am, in my tent on a bank above a little stream watching the sun go down. A day of chasing butterflies, catching up with old friends and strolling through fields of grass in the sunshine can't be bad.

Campsite night 126

The last couple of nights I have tried some night photography. Never done it before so these are my first attempts. I'm yet to work out how to make the camera focus on something I can't see because it is dark. I think I will need to watch a YouTube video or two to learn a bit more. I don't wait up, waiting for it to get dark. I still go to bed at the late hour of about 8.30pm then as I usually wake up a few times in the night, I just stuck my head out the tent door with the camera on the tripod and shoot. Last night it was 10.30 pm. I had had such a good sleep up to that point I thought it must have been the early hours of the morning. The joys of going to bed as the sun sets. The night before was a bit later and the moon was already up shining on the mountain tops.

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