Makino Hut – Three Gorges, February 16 2011
Trampers: Kelvin Shaw, Gary Bowler, Paul Exeter, John Marshall, Murray Goss, Ron Morison, John Burrell, Isabel Holdaway and reporter Keith Moretta
The previous period of high temperatures and humidity, typical for February, was replaced today with cooler, overcast skies and occasional drizzle.
Eight members headed towards Makino Hut from the Makahu Road, Makino car park, while Ron ambled around the base for the day, and he was assigned to bring the van to Middle Hill car park. The steep Makino ridge is never the best way to begin the day’s walk, but we were quickly among low scrub, bracken and manuka that had colonised the ridge.
After an hour, we entered beech forest where we passed Makino Bivouac, and after 90 minutes we had morning tea at the Middle Hill Hut/Makino Hut intersection. Paul, Murray, and John M had planned to go to Makino Hut, while the remaining five decided to cross the three gorges, to Middle Hill Hut track.
The three gorges crossing is mostly covered in beech trees. The geology is mainly metamorphic sandstone, often with cliff outcrops. The track is carpeted thick with beech leaves and the scene is completed by mature trees covering the region as a backdrop. There are signs that deer numbers have reduced, with huge numbers of horopito trees growing where beech trees have fallen.
Our descent into the first gorge is steep and eventually we arrive at a small stream. The ascent takes us onto a wide plateau, where we stop for lunch among some of the beech trees and leaves. There is little bird life, and we do not stay long as people begin to cool and stiffen with the cooler weather.
Our trail repeats the descending and ascending with two more gorges. We cross the Mangatutuanui Stream in the third gorge as beech trees are slowly replaced by manuka trees as we near the top. The trail returns to clay with loose rock, but it is welcomed by all as we join the Middle Hill Hut trail, four hours from the Makino Ridge track. Views of the three gorges from Middle Hill Hut trail give everyone a sense of the day’s journey. We quickly descend the ridge, and upon reaching the Mangatutuanui Stream bridge, a short riverside walk to Middle Hill car park is completed by five tired, weary but very happy hikers who’d had a wonderful seven hours.