Yeomans/ Parks Peak/Barlows Hut, Ruahine Forest Park, Saturday, April 9 2016
Map: BK37 and BK36
Early in April seemed a good time to have the season’s final walk involving multi-river crossings. However, unseasonable drizzle and cool weather meant that anticipated plunges into the river weren’t to be!
It wasn’t raining when we left Napier with 11 in the van but the low, threatening cloud came closer the further we travelled towards the Ruahines. Yet spirits were high, because it had been some time since some had been out. The road ends on private land and now you can’t park down by the river. It wasn’t too long a walk down a farm track and across a couple of paddocks. The cattle were fairly frisky, but no problem.
The track starts with a first crossing of the Makaroro River. It takes a few more hours before you get down to the river again, so a number of us had brought river shoes to use and then leave in the bushes until our return. With a steep climb ahead, it made sense to keep the boots dry.The track begins sedately but, after branching off from the Yeoman’s track, there is a fairly steep climb which seems to go on for a long time. At this stage the party had split in two with the sprinters heading off into the hills at a fast pace. The rest were making very good time anyway so all were happy; the bush is so different from the Kawekas, we were enjoying looking at all the greenery and fungi. We had three new participants out with us and they acquitted themselves very well.
The most disappointing aspect of the weather was the fact that, when we finally made the tops, you couldn’t actually see anything because of the claggy cloud.At grid ref. E773/N994, the track down to Barlows Hut is signposted; however, it does not show on the NZ Topo50 map. From this junction, the track descends to Barlows Hut, which is on the Makaroro River about 50m downstream (true right). Unfortunately, one of our guests hurt his knee on the descent, which slowed the rear party a bit.
In spite of the rain, the ground wasn’t too slippery but you still needed to hug the trees at times to keep upright on the steep descent.
John Dobbs managed to very effectively let the rest of us know that there was a wasp nest on the track by being attacked as he led the second party down. The rest of us managed to evade the nest and the wasps. In the end, John was only stung twice – but that was two times too many! So the first aid kits had to come out to get the antihistamine cream, plus some strapping tape for Keith’s knee. With these aids, we finally managed the last of the track down to the river.
The rear party reached the hut to find that Julia was the only one remaining there; the others had finished their lunch and were getting cold, so had already headed off down the river.
After lunch in the hut, it was a bit of a slog along the river; normally, that walk would have been broken up with many swims. We finally made it back to the van about 5pm and headed home – tired but happy.
Trampers: John Dobbs, Viv Bramley, Rosemary Jeffery, Alison Greer, Geoff Donkin, Julia Mackie, Elly Govers, Keith Lucas, Andrea Hannah, Tina Grey and reporter Juliet Gillick