A Labour Weekend Cocktail of Weather in the Tararuas
22-25 October 1999
A fit trip to include a Bannister circuit and Arete Forks. The party members were Yvonne Ashworth, Marg Conal, Masaki Kojima, Mike Arnold, Tim Stone and Dave Reynolds (leader and scribe)
The intended route for this trip was to go to Arete Forks and be based there for two nights, do a day trip to Waingawa and continue over Bannister and the Twins to Arete Biv and then to Tarn Ridge and back to Arete Forks via one of the three routes (two off Tarn Ridge and one off Table Ridge). After driving to the Pines we left our cars opposite a recently constructed house adding to the security of this roadend. We were able to complete part of the trip to Mitre Flats Hut in daylight but the bulk of the track was completed by torch-light, arriving at our destination in under three hours.
We were ready to depart by 7.30 the next morning. Our plan to go over Mitre was thwarted by strong to gale force winds. Plan B, to go to Arete Forks via Cow Creek and the sidle track, was put into action. The river walk to Cow Creek is one of those really pleasant walks through attractive bush along an easy track. From Cow Creek the nature of the route takes a rather dramatic change; it could not longer be called easy and the rather steep ups and downs are between the third and fourth side stream complemented by patches of stinging nettle. The TTC Saturday trips provide good training for this type of travel. The track had been cut about eighteen months ago but is now getting a bit overgrown as it would be the least preferred route to Arete Forks Hut.
The Hut itself is in very good condition. We soon had made ourselves very cosy with a good fire and a hot drink.
Our plans for Sunday required rapid revision as we woke to no wind but heavy rain and raging rivers. We decided that the only wise option was to retreat to Mitre Flats over Table Ridge and Mitre. After breakfast we set off up to the spur to Table Ridge in heavy rain but once above the bush line we were greeted by hail and eventually snow, as we neared Bump 1478. Once on Table Ridge the route to Brockett was well defined and visibility was good. While passing the large Tarn on Table Ridge the weather looked as if it might lift for a tantalising moment but the tops soon hid again behind a veil of dark grey cloud. Once in the bush it was much warmer and we were greeted by a steady stream of the occupants of Mitre Flats Hut on a day walk up to Mitre.
We had lunch at the hut and decided that there was little we could do from Mitre Flats Hut on our last day other than head out to the Pines thus shortening the trip by one day. Although we did not achieve our objective of crossing Bannister (in fact we hardly even saw Bannister all weekend) we had a rather interesting trip and some of the party were introduced to some new areas.