The Essence of Spring Tramping
Tramping in the Tararuas in the spring can bring together most of the essential aspects of this rewarding outdoor activity. The opportunity to travel on a basic bush track with a reasonable level of vertical challenge, in the hope of improving one’s fitness for the extended daylight hours of summer; the fresh, vibrant greens of new growth; the airing of all of a tramper’s storm gear; and the potential exposure to all seasonal weather variations. We had the pleasure of all of the afore-mentioned aspects of tramping on a mid-November day trip. Our route was along the Atiwhakatu River track, up the East Holdsworth track, along to Mt Holdsworth and down the Mt Holdsworth track.
The forecast on the 6 am news that morning indicated a reasonable day with a dying southerly. The last thing we did before leaving the car park was put sun cream on in warm sunny conditions. By the time we reached Donnelly’s Flat we had been showered on. By the time we reached the East Holdsworth swing bridge we were back in warm sun.
As we went up the East Holdsworth track, the temperature dropped and the severity of the wind increased and the mist thickened. Well before the bush line we had to put beanies and mitts on. At the bush line we put on parkas. As we ascended the tussock fields we passed through patches of fresh snow. On East Holdsworth overmitts were put on and we plodded on, at times having to shelter our faces from stinging horizontal sleet. Our first place of respite from the weather was on the lee north face of Mt Holdsworth.
Descending from Mt Holdsworth we were exposed to the full cold brunt of the southerly, especially near the High Ridge signpost. We had brought a billy and it was a welcome warm cuppa that accompanied a late lunch at Powell Hut.
Descending to the car park involved regular shedding of layers until we were down to one layer at Rocky Lookout. Changing gear at the car park was done in warm sunny conditions.
The expression “four seasons in one day” was very apt for our trip that day. All our storm gear, bar overtrousers, had been given a good airing. The track underfoot had been in good shape – with only a few fallen trees causing minor diversions. The question ”Why are you doing this?” was easily answered. And the body fitnesses indicated promise for some enjoyable summer’s tramping. It had been an enjoyable spring day trip in the Tararuas.
- Party members
- Dave Reynolds; Bill Allcock (scribe).