Day 1 started well, as would most of my days on the trail, but it soon started clouding over and it wasn't long before the rain set in. I'd decided to follow the higher alpine route because of the better views (the other route was mainly through forest), and after climbing up the aptly named Puffer – a really steep track that I thought would never end – I clambered around the mountain to Dawson Falls and started heading downhill towards Lake Dive, and that's when the cloud kicked it. I could see it approaching from the west, in a big thick rolling mass, and before ten minutes was up I was surrounded by cloud, with a visibility of about 20 metres and a temperature drop from boiling down to seriously cold; the weather rolls in pretty quickly when you're this close to the west coast, and it's particularly noticeable when you're up in the mountains.
Still, the rain kept off long enough for me to reach the hut at Lake Dive, at which point the heavens opened. Luckily the hut I was in had a stove with plenty of dry wood, and it wasn't long before I had a roaring fire going, slowly drying out my sodden clothes. When I arrived at the hut I was alone, quite a rarity on a popular walk like the AMC, but soon I had company in the shape of Jacek (pronounced 'Yatsik'), a Kiwi who had come over from Poland with his family when he was 11, back in the bad old days of martial law and Solidarity. He was very interesting company, and we decided to walk together for the rest of the trip, especially as the weather had made the track a lot more treacherous than normal, and a broken ankle is a bit of a downer if you're on your own.