Cattle Creek Hut, Ruahine Forest Park, Saturday/Sunday September 21-22 2013
The weekend party of six split into two. Les and I planned to go to Mid Pohangina Hut as neither of us had been past Cattle Creek Hut, so were eager to visit new territory. Ted, Paul, Simon and Sue opted for Cattle Creek Hut, so we said see you maybe tomorrow.
The Holmes Track starts with a crossing of the Tamaki River West Branch, and then is a small uphill through bush onto the farm track which continues a steady climb. Near the start of the descent, a view down to the hut and stream, and also to the saddle which we have to pass to walk on the ridgeline above Cattle Creek.
It is a promising day, but the forecast for tomorrow is heavy rain. At Standfield Hut, Les and I stop for a drink and fill in the hut book. A rain shower passes through. The track follows the river and then the side stream, to the start of the bush climb to the saddle. It has been recently scrub cut, but is only a short climb. Once at the junction sign (there used to be another track over the saddle and down to Cattle Creek from here), it is a walk along the ridge, with glimpses of the farmland to the east and west. The track dips into some deer wallows, but gradually emerges from the bush to open tops. Cattle Creek Hut is clearly visible in the rain that is starting to become heavier.
We arrive at Cattle Creek and the wind is now very strong, gusting down the valley, and the rain is horizontal. Les and I reassess our trip and decide to wait it out and leave later in the afternoon if the rain and wind drops.
There is a smell of dead animal under the hut veranda, and Les is handed the spade to find and remove it. The possum is hurled into the bush, and the smell is soon dispelled by the wind. The other party arrives, and immediately starts to gather some firewood. Simon and Ted are expert at this, and we soon have enough to last the night.
So we gaze out at the rain and wind, realising that we are not going to get to Mid Pohangina Hut tonight. Perhaps tomorrow morning?
The hut has recently been repaired, with the north-facing wall being replaced due to rotten timbers. It served us all well during a wild night, but it was still raining the next morning.
The river does not seem unduly higher, and we enjoy the easy walk back up the Holmes Track. The weekend did not go as planned, so it will mean another trip into Mid Pohangina, and perhaps back up, and on to Leon Kinvig and then Toka Biv. A lot to dream about, and hope we get better weather next time.
Trampers: Les O’Shea, Paul Exeter, Ted Angove, Sue Marshall, Simon Hill and Julia Mackie