Kaweka Forest Park. Three gorges from Middle Hill Hut/Makino Ridge, Wednesday October 14 2009. Map BJ37 Kuripapango
Trampers: Ken Ross, Paul Exeter, John Marshall, Vic Bullock, Murray Goss, Thelma Tasman-Smith, Manfred Hausler, Jeanne van den Hout, Gary Bowler, Keith Moretta, Les O’Shea, Gordon Tapp, Peter Slagter and Julia Mackie
With the Makahu Stream in the red zone on the Nicholas farm crossing, we obtained permission from Mrs Nicholas to cross their private bridge. So, 12 trampers set off from Middle Hill car park at 9:30am – a little later than normal, which meant that we would be on the back foot all day. So it proved, with kanuka snow damage over the track even before we reached the footbridge crossing the Mangatutunui Stream. Nothing too serious though; it just slowed the pace a little. The first views of the higher peaks still with a little snow were wonderful. We steadily made our way to Middle Hill, and some then decided not to continue to the three gorge (or geriatric track, as it is described in the Happy Wanderer). They had a scout around the track towards the Ihaka Spur turn-off.
Six dedicated trampers led by Julia started the three gorges trip. We would turn back if the snow damage made going too difficult. But it was easily walkable. We got down the first gorge and into the beech trees on the other side. Across the beech forest tops, and then down the second gorge. We had decided to have a later lunch, and met Manfred and Jeanne on the track down to the bottom of the second gorge, again in mature beech forest. They had tackled it from the Makino ridge end, and advised us we had a lot of climbing yet to do. No problem, we love challenges, don’t we, guys? Please all say yes…
We lunched on the tops, (yes, you are allowed to stop and eat), before tackling the third and longest gorge. It drops down into a stream and then ascends briefly, before sidling around a ridge and dropping down into the last stream crossing. There are lovely tree ferns in this gully.
Then the final push up, and you’re on the Makino ridge track. We reached it at 3:15pm, and then started the way down. You can see the track stretch out in front across the ridges, and then the final one, before the last leg down to the car park. The kanuka was again all across the track in places, but again nothing that we found too bad. Keith moved many broken branches from the track, a sterling effort that will help other trampers and hunters.
We reached the van, which had been brought up from Middle Hill, at 4:50pm. A longer day than normal, and some weary trampers, but all very satisfied to have done the tramp. It does not have the geriatric nickname for no reason, but we all felt fitter and younger than at 9:30am.
Well done, guys.