This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in December 1998 Around Egmont with the Children October 1998 With no snow on the mountain, we looked at possible alternatives for a few days away and a chance to get the children off play stations and computer games. A trip around Egmont was put up as an option and it seemed a good idea. We left on Wednesday night. As we drove up the Manaia road, we could see the shape of Egmont with a big white shroud being swept along its eastern flank which enveloped us in a fine mist as we negotiated the treed avenue to Dawson Falls. Using the prearranged secret combination, we got the key to Konini Lodge.
It was a leisurely start the next day, but only a short day. Some instructors were doing some team building with planks and pieces of string, so the children offered their suggestions. There were some slippery bridges with no wire-netting or sides and considerable drops along this section to Lake Dive and extra care needed to be taken when crossing. At lunch time the children were ravenous. At this rate our extra supplies would soon be gone. We all did well and reached Lake Dive Hut at about 2.30pm, three hours tramping.
One gauges on the first day the times the children do against the standard times to know what allowances to make. The children were walking well within the standard times. The hut is in a beautiful setting and after an hour the clouds lifted showing Egmont with a little snow but nothing on Fanthams Peak. We had the hut to ourselves. It seemed rather cold but we soon had the fire warming us up.
Friday we were away just before 9am. It was too windy for the upper track, so we took an easy 2 hour walk down the ridge to the Taungatara Track. This latter track was pretty boggy and heavy going with many windfalls along the way. The children were still eating ravenously. We had better review our food portions for our Christmas trip. We eventually met the Brames Fall Track, on down the ridge a little, across the Waiaua River and to the aluminium ladder. Stuart and Anne were way up in front. Up the ladder and to the hut by 3pm.
A local group were arriving from Holly Hut, it had been a wet miserable trip for them. We looked down to the river to see the others crossing and then apprehensively climb the ladder as lightening flashed overhead. Just as the others arrived, the heavens opened to deliver heavy rain. The hut was so warm that night many of us didn't get into sleeping bags until the early morning.
It was still raining the next morning. Although the forecast was for clearing weather, the other party was going to call it quits and depart by the Ihaia track. The track continued to be squelchy for most of the way. One bridge support was starting to be undermined. After a few tricky negotiations we made it to the Kahui track. Now this was different; much easier going up the ridge and in less than an hour we were in the hut having lunch. As we set off again through the scrub the sun came out, giving spectacular views of Egmont and the ocean below. It was pleasant relaxing back absorbing the heat. The gorge of Pyramid Stream had considerably advanced up the mountain and the track further detoured to its head. While Egmont was clear, the Pouakai Range was still in cloud. So downhill over Peters Stream to Holly Hut. It had been our longest day but we had done it in just over 7 hours. At the hut we met Jim Gibbons, a member of the club, and his daughter June.
The forecast the next day wasn't good, but after some early rain we left in pleasant enough weather. To the Kokowai track the weather wasn't too bad, but as we climbed the weather worsened, with lashing rain and high winds. We eventually arrived at Tahurangi Emergency shelter after nearly missing it in the mist. Time to put on more clothes and eat some lunch. Somewhat refreshed we headed out, into the storm, hail accompanied the rain, flashes of lightening and claps of thunder completed the sound effects. From the overhangs large bucketfuls of water were strewn over us and the tiny streams were now raging torrents. We got the children safely across if not a bit wet ourselves, thigh deep in water with waterfalls cascading from above. We kept going until we reached the public shelter at the Stratford ski field. The children sat on the T-bars and imagined they were skiing. So down the road and on to the track to Dawson Falls by 4pm, the rain still lashing down. We returned to accommodation at Konini Lodge and after a well earned hot shower and dinner watched Jupiter moving behind the moon.
Next morning the mountain had a thin sprinkling of snow over its slopes, but it wouldn't last long. The children had done well and it had been a successful and eventful trip.