Stewart Island-4968

7 years ago I packed my bag and took of into the Hollyford valley and the plan was to walk out via the Pyke, a river known for it’s high volumes of water and tricky crossings. The walk to big bay was good and I can only recommend to make it to big bay as it is one of the most magical places. The rain that came in the next day had me pack early and try to make it to the Pyke river as quick as I could. I had tried to memorise the map and was walking at a steady pace and when I came to a big river bed after 2 hours walking, I was puzzled what the fuss was about, hardly any water in what I thought to be the Pyke, I crossed the stream and made one mistake after another. First, this was not the Pyke, but the a different river bed leading into the Waiuna lagoon. I also crossed and did not look for the marker as I thought I was in a different spot and thought if I follow this stream I get to the path, as the is what I memorised from the map. Deeper and deeper did I get into the wilderness and waist deep in water at times, I did not know, but was heading straight for the lagoon. The clouds were low and it was pouring with rain, but I still tried to find that path instead of turning back and what made it worse, I thought I could hear the river I was trying to find, but in reality, that was still the ocean. I had thoughts of blowing up my dry bags and jumping into the now swollen little streams and float to the river, but somehow sense told me I would die from hypothermia. I carried on and the vegetation became so think I could hardly walk, I was truly in the swamp and the only path I could find was a deer trail.
And then everything opened up, and I stood at the edge of the lagoon, my thoughts were playing tricks on me. I was not due out for another 7 days, who was going to look for me, my survival hammock was no good in the swamp, what if I break a leg or spear myself on a hidden branch. My hands were numb from the cold and I was soaking wet, this is where I made the choice not to carry on to olivine hut but try to get out. I took my compass and started setting way points to the north, I knew there was a mountain range north, and I had to get to higher grounds and get dry and warm. Still the only trail was a deer trail, which I lost and then found again. My hands and legs were cut to bits by the sharp waiver grasses but after 3 hours I got to a higher and dry spot. I put my pack down and got my camping stove out, I needed to warm up from the inside and as I was sitting there, I looked up and there was this massive stag, about 20 meters away from me, looking at me and then slowly walked away. That was one of the most magical moments in my life, it was his path, that saved my life and he knew! I then stumbled on a hunters trail market by little pink ribbons and found my way back to the main path when a quad bike passed me with a local white baiter and a friend. I ended up having a hot shower there, a beer and food and once I had regained some strength I walked to Martins bay and then out.

So, now it is time to go back and walk out via the Pyke.


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