At 9am, the torrential rain was still dropping to earth!
At 10am, the torrential rain was still dropping to earth!
At 10.30am, the torrential rain was still dropping to earth. And on us too!
We made the decision to go for it in the hope the rain would eventually abate. John gave us a lift 4km up the road to the start of the farmland track where we set off from. Trickle of water flows were everywhere making it wet underfoot. We had only gone no more than 100m when I nearly face planted into cow shit. That would have added it to being a stink day had the shit stuck!
Once onto the track proper, there was some shelter. It didn’t matter by now though as we were soaked with heads down hop skip and jumping mud bogs, streams of water and track obstacles like rocks, tree roots and debris. Reflections of the Pirongia’s also flooded back and it was a challenge to keep a mindset of “E” for enjoyment.
The first swollen creek was just gushing with brown tinged liquid. Nick had already crossed and his voice came from somewhere up stream. That was a good sign. If he had of gone down stream, he would have gone over the waterfall into the raging river and a far cry from the rapids of the Wanganui. With the low cloud, it made the visibility dark and he was like a shadow in the undergrowth giving us instructions of which arm of the stream to walk up.
Walking sticks prodding the creek bed, over hanging vines hung onto, careful placement of the feet so as not to lose balance and then a hand reaching out to grab ours had us cross it okay. Dry socks were now also soaked and the thought of comparing old wrinkly feet by the end of this day gave us inspiration.
The decision to skip the first hut and take an alternative track that was supposedly easier was supposed to have us out in the conditions for approximately 7 hours. The hut had a fireplace and that image conjured up mental pictures of wool skin rug, candle lit table and glasses of wine with chocolates.
Remember, we started at 10.30 amish. We eventually dropped the packs at 7.45pm that evening. Nick had already been at the hut for an hour and he had found it tough going. There were another eleven hikers already there, three of those were already in the bunk room in bed! The wet wood was barely making a glow in the fire place and the smell of un-laundered manky apparel hanging from makeshift clotheslines evaporated the sheepskin rug, wine and chocolate dream in the first second – poof!
It was a tough slog up. The weather did break somewhat when we hit the alpine patch closer to Richards Knob for views of more ridgelines over yonder and the first hut. The bogs were awful and to add colour to the adventure today, I stood on a part of the track following boot prints that wasn’t the track and not enough boot print under the sole to take a plunge forward down a bank. Once I regained composure to get back onto the pathway, it wasn’t till an hour further on when the shock of me plunging with the PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) on board, that my right knee started to ache and give grief. F..k!
But, we didn’t let it detract from us having arrived to shelter and once cleaned up and cooking an evening meal in the dark with conversations shared around the hut table with fellow humans, we became ourselves again and laughed about the day that was.
There were no photos taken today due to the camera being stored deep within the back pack because of the elements. Hopefully readers can use their imagination to paint the journey from these words typed.
By 10.15pm, we too were horizontal in our sleeping bags. The knee throbbed so a decision as to where to from here procrastinated till the morning. Suggesting at dinner that I set the PLB off in the morning for a medical evacuation airlift out was tempting!
“You Are Here to Matawai Hut” … need we write more!