E/M… Yeah Right E/M
26-27 November 2011
Relatively new to the club but quite an experienced tramper, I went on an Easy/Medium overnighter expecting general fitness levels to be improved for the summer and looking forward to a new group experience. We went to Waiopehu Hut in the Tararuas, inland from Levin. I’ve been there before, in mist, with memories of a good 4 hour grunt up and a cold night. I’d never gone off track!
This time our TTC group headed off around 11:30 am after casting votes in the general election. Then, smack on midday, we were to sit down again at the beginning of the bush for a relaxed picnic lunch break. Since breakfast for me had been only a couple of hours earlier and adaptation to group rhythm a prerogative, I settled in to a bit of chitchat. Finally, after almost an hour (!), we headed off. Our dear leader insisted we stop every half hour then every hour to regroup and also offered bulk bin lollies as incentives. Needless to say, it took us 6 hours and in mud up to knees before we arrived at the hut around 7pm.
A light hearted evening was had by all, following the election results on our respective electronic devices and getting to know each other through a general quiz from the hut’s ‘Manhood’ magazine.
Then the night brought adventures for yours truly, with a close possum encounter: one following me right up to the door of the hut, a stick and shrieks no deterrent and the noise waking half the bunk room (oh dear)! What with people snoring and the possums, there wasn't much sleep
Next morning, there was general consensus for Alan’s suggestion to go back off track avoiding the mud and to ‘get home early'. After a quick look on the ridge top and much map and GPS study, we proceeded down a steep spur through supplejack swinging from tree to tree. For the inexperienced bush-bashers, it was hard on arms and wrists, and disconcertingly steep. About 3-4 hours later, we reached a river/stream which apparently had more water than two years ago as Alan recalled. We waded, criss-crossing, sometimes waist deep, sometimes a strong current, very slow going until it met up with another river/stream… and then hours more of the same. The youngest and least experienced in the group fell and broke a bone in his lower arm. It was slung up, he was drugged up, and some were loaded up with his gear. Bulk bin lolly incentives became a critical moral booster as did the supportive mode of the group.
After about 6 hours, we reached the overbridge at the Ohau River and clambered up to go across it around 7 pm, only to find the DOC sign to the car park said two more hours straight up another spur. The sign for the track going adjacent to the river had gone! Exhausted, we opted for the latter, taking the chance that the track wasn't going to disappear into the river in a slip. It didn’t! However, the final episode was reaching the paddock with a 20 minute trudge over to the car park only to see it packed with frisky young heifers. Would they budge? No; and the fence was electric! With head down, focussing on heels of the person in front, I pretended huge, energetic 4-legged beasts didn't exist on either side.
I have never walked 11 hrs with a full pack before. Once home, I negotiated the stairs on hands and knees, somehow managed to lever the body into a bath and crawled into bed. I felt like I'd been rolled over by a tank several times from all angles. By Tuesday, however, all aches and pains were gone… unbelievable!
- Party members
- Barry Cullen, Julia Fraser, Ken Fraser, Vince Grealish, Alan Graham (leader), Dianne Hill, Warwick Hill, Sheelagh Leary, Liz Martin, Jane-Pyar Mautner (scribe), Jennifer Roberts.