Lawrence shelter to Lotkow road-end, Kaweka FP, Saturday 11 July 2020
Banner Pix: The winter sun by John Russell
We woke to a very cold day. Considering the Napier-Taihape Road had been closed during the week, the road conditions along this stretch were particularly good, with no ice and only a few wet patches. The vehicles turned at the Lawrence Road junction at Blowhard Bush at about 60km from Taradale.
The van came to a halt in an appropriate parking space 5km down the Kaweka State Forest road. One car driver decided to drive down the windy steep road to the river flats. This is where the toilet and Lawrence shelter are tucked in between the trees.
Because the swingbridge is a one-person only, and with 18 to cross, the starting time was very staggered, except for Julia who chose to cross the wintry waters of the Tutaekuri. We shivered as we watched her. This type of bridge was a first for some of our newbies. From the bridge, the track meandered beside the river then gradually sidled steeply. This part of the gentle uphill track was in good condition with beautiful lush ferns growing on either side.
The plan was for everyone to meet at the Mackintosh track junction as there would have been easily 20-30 minutes from the first crossing to the last one across the bridge.
Because we were in a gorge all the way and only climbing up to 500 metres, it was very cold. Although the skies were blue and the sun was shining, it did not reach us as we were hidden by the tall trees.There were many shallow crossings with slippery rocks because of huge boulders or trees obstructing the track. Many of us managed to keep dry feet for most of the way. There was plenty of evidence of wind- and snow-fall throughout the kanuka forest. Some described the route as ‘scrambly’. We had to be vigilant for Bush Lawyer hanging from branches conveniently dangling at leg- or face-height, and many got tangled up in it.
Overhead, we heard and saw the Search and Rescue helicopter, but we heard very little birdlife.
In less than three hours, everyone reached the sunny, grassy lunch spot and enjoyed a chatter and warmth from the sun’s rays. The break was shortened as some people wanted to get back in time for a shower and freshen-up for the NZ Mountain Film Festival.It was a quicker return, being downhill most of the way, but we had to be careful of the muddy and slippery slopes. There were a few falls, slips and muddy shorts. Those awfully long flax leaves covering the tracks also proved dangerous and caused trampers to trip up.
Gordon had decided to walk so far then return and we were thankful for the arrows he placed indicating his turnaround point.
Back over the bridge, knowing that there was still a long road climb back to the van, half the group walked up the 300-metre road to the parking area. However, Bruce kindly offered a shuttle for the other half.
Everyone was changed and the vehicles left for home by 2.30pm, after a satisfying tramp.
Trampers: Bruce Hodgson, Julia Mackie, Juliet Gillick, Lynette Morgan, John Russell, Shona Tupe, Alison Greer, Sue Gribble, Fiona Chiverrell, Jane Thomson, Mark Jenkins, John Bennett, Gordon Tapp, Thomas O’Neil, Elly Govers, Di Reid, Gaye Gosser and reporter Sue Martin