How To Get Someone Else To Carry Your Pack Bushcraft 3
It was very early one Saturday morning, the final weekend of this year’s Bushcraft course. After several coffees and an early morning drive over the Rimutakas, our group reached the starting point at Holdsworth Lodge. This was to be the culmination of all the new skills we had acquired during Bushcraft. During earlier weekends, we had learnt how to use a map and compass, build a fire, put up a fly, use a stove, find paper animals in the middle of a gorse bush, as well as cross a river safely. And this weekend, one of our honorary leaders, Stu, was set to show us a wholly new skill: how to get the group to carry your pack over the last kilometre.
Our first big decision was made in the car park. Given that it was set to be a clear fine day on Saturday, with an expected weather bomb on the Sunday, did we attempt Mount Holdsworth and the ridge first? Wisely we decided we would do just that.
So off we set, down Gentle Annie Track – which turned out to be not quite as gentle as we thought. But we all reached the Mountain House Shelter safely, where we were able to study old photographs of tramping days past and realise how much more elaborately our counterparts had then dressed – especially the women trampers in their long skirts. Then on to the steepest part of the day, the ascent to Powell Hut. The next two hours were spent sweating and puffing and feeling the weight in our packs as we steadily crossed the contours upwards. Eventually we emerged from the bush to take a break and appreciate the spectacular patchwork view across the Wairarapa and Waiohine River. Then a final sprint up to Powell Hut for a well-deserved lunch. Replenished, we then made the final climb up to Mount Holdsworth, where we could see right across the southern Tararuas to the west coast and Kapiti Island. The fine weather continued to hold as we tramped along the ridgeline to Jumbo. Saturday night at Jumbo hut was a very interesting experience for everyone. Some of the group had never stayed in a mountain hut in New Zealand before, apart from the night at Waerenga Hut in Bushcraft 1. Stu had slipped on the rocky path down to the hut and it was only when we all arrived that we realized he had cut his wrist quite badly and no-one wanted to high five him with a bloody hand. Immediately there were recommendations as to how to proceed, along with the favourite ‘sewing it up with boot laces’! Supper was a combined effort and was finished off with Stu’s chocolate pudding with a whole slab of chocolate mixed in. After dinner, we watched a red moon rise up in the east, eclipsing the scatter of lights at our feet that were Masterton, Carterton and Greytown
Overnight, the wind whipped around the hut, bringing the promised rain and clouds. But the hut remained warm and most had a reasonable night’s sleep. At breakfast, we were treated to smoky bacon (thanks Ruth) which was a great way to start the second day. Everyone congratulated each other on making the right decision the day before. The ridge might still have been ‘do-able’ on the Sunday, but it would have been a wetter, less inspiring experience. Instead, we set off down Rain Gauge Spur to Atiwhakatu Hut, downhill all the way over tree roots, wet stones and some muddy patches. We had a brief break at Atiwhakatu Hut, then the last stretch along Atiwhakatu River to Holdsworth Lodge, finishing on a level and wide stretch of ‘motorway’.. A couple of kilometres short of the car park, we came across another group whose leader had stumbled and badly injured his right foot. We agreed to carry his pack out for him, then when we caught up with the other members of his party, Stu suggested that he and Andy should return to see if he needed a shoulder lift himself. The packs were dutifully distributed around the rest of the group so that Andy and Stu were free to carry the injured tramper. And so it was that the four women of the team and Rob managed to carry out 3 extra packs between them in the last 2 kilometres of the walk. As it turned out, the injured tramper didn’t need any help, he was managing alright on his own. So as Andy and Stu came tramping nonchalantly back with nothing but themselves to carry, we couldn't help but tease Stu mercilessly about his brilliant tactics! This is how you get someone else to carry your pack! We wouldn't admit this to him, but he and Jane had handled the situation excellently and it showed what we could all do in a crisis to support someone in need. It rounded off a brilliant weekend and an excellent course.
Thanks to all the instructors who gave up so much of their time and experience during Bushcraft (Malcolm, Mark, Dave, Russell, Jan, Bill, Neil....) and especially to Stu and Jane for guiding us through the final weekend. Also thanks to the two who didn’t quite make the BC3 weekend. Andrea for putting so much effort into the planning and providing her lovely pasta sauce for her food group and Pete who battled flu to drive out half of the team to the starting point.
A Personal View From Sarcha: Not having done a tramp like this before, I had to ask myself, "Am I cut out for this? Maybe I should have gone on one of the easier walks!" These thoughts were running through my mind in the first 5 minutes of leaving the car park would you believe!!! But onwards and upwards as we say and I conquered Mount Holdsworth. Wow what a feeling of great satisfaction and achievement!
Being in amongst New Zealand's beautiful native bush and feeling the life out there, was up there on my “highlights list”. I found myself ambling along most of the time at the back but not feeling embarrassed. I greatly appreciated the patience of my team leaders Stu and Jane and for their encouragement to keep going. Lucky I had Stu behind me at one stage. We were coming down the hill that morning and he was telling me I looked like a drunk staggering along and swaying from side to side, and suggested I use the tramping poles. I have to admit I was still pretty tired from the day before and it was quite early. Fortunately for me, Rob kindly offered his tramping pole and boy what a life saver that was!
I really enjoyed the coming together at the end for the well deserved beverage in Greytown as well. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the trip! SH
Post Script: The injured tramper whom Stu and Andy had gone back to assist, rang Rob on Sunday evening to express his thanks to everyone. He had been to A&E and fortunately his foot was not broken, just badly sprained
- Party members
- Jane Boydon, Rob Causer, Ruth Davison, Sarcha Herbert, Stuart Hutson, Andy Southall (scribe),