Holdsworth - Totara Creek - Bump 834 - High Ridge
20 November 1999
The forecast for this trip was foul, but the team was keen to go - Saturday trippers are tough.
As we approached the Wairarapa, the sky was surprisingly clear, and we could even see much of the Tararua tops. We felt mildly hopeful about the weather.
We left Holdsworth carpark at 8.45, and 11 TTC members headed up the Holdsworth track. Our first stop was at the saddle that descends over into Totara Creek, which we reached by 9.45. After a quick drink, we went down to the creek at a fair pace as the mass of tree roots down this track were dry and less of a slippery slide than usual.
I had done a recce on this route two weeks earlier and located and marked the spur up to bump 834. It was not hard to find as its location fortunately matched the stream pattern on the map, which is not always the case, although use of Mike Arnold's altimeter was very useful to establish our position of 340 metres height at the second major side stream.
I removed the marker as we went in and found the toe of the spur, then removed the second marker. This spur is long and steep, and has a remarkable amount of rotting foliage, just when a firm hand grip is needed. It was now about 11am and we aimed to reach bump 834 in reasonable time for lunch.
It was quite a stagger, but great exercise. The group went well and we reached our lunch spot right on midday. The most remarkable thing was that we were still dry, and a few spots of rain came to nothing. I removed the third and final marker as we headed off at 12.30.
Onwards and up this long spur. The scenery was beautiful - what Keats would have called ‘sylvan' had he had a chance to tramp with the TTC.
By the time we reached the turn onto High Ridge, we had climbed over 1100 metres that day, with another 300m of elevation to go. High Ridge narrows and is fairly easy to follow, but there are two sections where it is easy to lose the plot, so a compass should be kept on hand.
High Ridge is spectacular, in my opinion, even when the scrub and leatherwood get a bit thick - there is only a short stretch of the scratchy stuff. We then burst out into the open and were amazed to find it was still dry, although the mist was starting to drift thickly over the last section of the climb ahead.
Just as we hit the track, it began to drizzle and at 1470 metres it was suddenly cold. Jackets and balaclavas came out and the group moved down at a pace. It was now about 3.30.
Soon after was one of the highlights of the trip - out of the mist, loomed the new Powell Hut below, sides on, roof half on and the windows installed. There were five workers there and we were invited in for a break from the rain, which was now beginning to team down. I took a few photos for personal historical records, and took some time to reflect on memories of the old hut, the horror of the fire, and the murder that was committed not far from the hut, although apparently not associated with the fire. Kia kaha to the new hut - how have we managed without this wonderful stopover on the way to further destinations?
The rain wasn't going to quit, so we headed off downhill at 4pm to reach the carpark around 6pm. Everyone was by now soaked but grateful we hadn't been wet all day as expected.
Those on the trip were: Bill Allcock, Colin Cook, Ken Fraser, Masaki K., Dave Dyett, Sieny Pollard, Nina Price, Anne Opie, Murray Gibbons, Tim Stone and Marg Conal (leader and scribe).