The A-Frame (Travers Hut), Ruahine FP, Wednesday June 10 2015
With eight on board the van and four in a car, we set off from Church Road at 7.30, picking up Rosemary and Vic along the way and arriving at the road end at 9.15. The forecast was for gale-force nor’westerlies and rain towards evening. However, whilst travelling along SH2 to Dannevirke, the view of the hills where we were heading was one of very low black clouds shrouding the whole area. The nearer we got to our destination, the quieter the passengers became. I feel sure that a suggestion to turn left and head for the beach or a coffee shop would have been met with a collective sigh of relief.
Plan A was supposed to be a circuit from the car park at the end of West Tamaki Road, up the track to the A-Frame, along the road/track on the ridge to the point where the track descends to Stanfield Hut and then return either along the river or along the Holmes track above the river. It turned out quite different.
The black clouds and obvious gale-force winds on the top brought about Plan B: To go as far as the A-Frame and then reassess the weather and options. Ken and Vic went off to explore the Holmes track area, John M went off on his own with his camera and tripod over his shoulder, leaving 11 to tackle the climb to the A- Frame. We set off in very light rain, fully expecting it to get a lot worse. From then on, all the basics of tramping seemed to be forgotten.
· The advice was “take the track to the left after the toilet block”; we went left before the block. Even though some wanted to use the loo, nobody asked “Where is it ?”
· We walked past and followed a sign that read Rokaiwhana Stream 1Hr. No-one asked “Is this the right way?’
· I counted 11 when there were only 10 as we entered the track after criss-crossing the stream at the start.
· It took half an hour on the wrong track before we realised Tony was missing.
· Myself and Sue started to return to find Tony, but two others carried on (towards the A-Frame, as they thought). Now there were three groups.
· Tony appeared soon after (he had missed the track at the start but thankfully had got back on to the same one as us).
· The main group had stopped for smoko and we quickly joined up with them. That was when Robyn asked: “Shouldn’t we be climbing by now?” A quick look at the map (what a novel idea) revealed that we were on the wrong track travelling South instead of West. However the other two were still heading further South. We had no choice but to continue in this direction where we eventually met up with Rosemary and Viv at what we now know to be the Rokaiwhana Stream, one hour from the car park. They had stopped to wait for us when the track and markers ran out. The only consolation was that it was a very pleasant walk on a good track.
When we emerged from the leatherwood and onto the road, it was blowing a gale as expected but for the short walk to the A-Frame we were protected by the leatherwood on our left side.The A-Frame (Travers Hut) is in poor condition. A leaking roof over the sleeping area, possum poo on the sink bench top, and rubbish all around did not make a very welcoming place. We ate our belated lunch in there, not from choice but only to escape the wind and its chill factor. We did not stay long.
We were all back at the car park by 3.00 where we were treated to home-made cake, courtesy of Anne and Steve Woulfe. It was Steve’s last tramp with us before they move to Auckland, so we wished him well and devoured the cake. The van was back at Church Road by 5.00 after a very strange day during which (hopefully) lessons were learned.
Trampers: Tony Pluymers, Robyn Smith, John Marshall, Ken Ross, John Burrell, Dorothy Sole, Steve Woulfe, Viv Bramley, Diane Hills, Peter Slagter, Sue Marshall, Rosemary Jeffrey, Vic Bullock and reporter Kelvin Shaw