By Hazel, 15 October 2009
So on Friday night as others headed to a farewell party we got rugged up and headed in to the new Atiwhakatu hut and possibly the first ever flat Friday night walk. And we were there shortly after 10, so it was even an early night. Saturday was a very lazy start as it was snowing when we woke up and we only had a short day. The trip past Mountain House to Totara flats was pleasant and uneventful, with a bit of light snow falling as we crossed Pig Flats.
Sunday morning dawned sunny and clear and we were out of the hut by 9, heading back across the bridge. Just past the bridge we turned off the track and headed up the spur to High Ridge and we were pleasantly surprised at the level of ground trail and old markers on the trees. Two and a half hours later we were at the Totara Flats signpost (seemingly in the middle of nowhere), and into the snow. The goblin forest began and Jess was happy. Unfortunately, following the relatively flat broad High Ridge with 15cm of snow on the ground and sporadic markers proved to be somewhat slower than the trip up the spur and our merry little group got quieter and quieter. With the sun shining brightly it felt like we were caught up in the Narnia thaw as the snow in the trees melted, and with full rain gear on we were wetter than on Friday night. As we got higher the trees got shorter and gnarlier until we were fighting our way through. The goblin forest was not so cool at this point, especially when the goblins dumped snowballs on us.
We finally broke free of the bush and traded the dripping trees for Tararua gales. Standing up proved to be a challenge at times and waiting for the ‘gust’ to pass was as fruitful as watching the grass grow. So we plodded through the foot of fresh snow asbest we could, occasionally sinking in to waist-deep and leaving a few bum prints along the way. Appreciating the view required stopping, bracing and quickly glancing around before resuming the forward progress to avoid hypothermia.
Reaching the main track (and other peoples footprints) was a major relief and cause for a much needed group hug before heading down to Powell hut and away from the knife edge ridge. A very quick stop at Powell for Kieran to regain the feeling in his feet and then it was a charge down the hill on autopilot for a 5.30pm lunch at the car park and very quiet drive home.
Cheers Kieran for another ´easy´ tramp.