Parks Peak – Ruahines, Saturday Sep 6, 2008. Map: U21
Trampers: Paul Exeter, Simon Hill, Jeff Donkin, Sue Marshall, Rosemary Jeffery, John Dobbs, Peter Youren, John Gray, Ted Angove, Murray Goss, Murray White, Jude Paton, Alison Greer, Matt Green, Denise Payne, Julia Mackie. Report by Jude Paton
A van and an extra carload set out from the parking point at 8:15am to check out the spankingly brand new Parks Peak Hut. With a cool breeze, showers forecast for the morning and a clearing afternoon, it was anyone’s guess what we might encounter.
We headed up over farmland and onto scrubby open slopes, rapidly gaining altitude. Everyone quickly warmed up and before long it was time to admire the farmland far below, while shedding excess clothing. The group slowly spread out, with some forging ahead (not always on the right track), others proceeding more leisurely and two others struggling valiantly on, one with a very sore leg and the other with breathing difficulties.
We made good time, reaching the junction with the ridge track after 90 minutes; then we swung a left and headed the 30 minutes to the hut (an accurate estimate, for once). Along the way, an initial tiny snowflake became a much larger snowflake and it snowed for about 20 minutes, even if it was melting almost instantly. It looked beautiful and was the highlight of the day, the snowfall from the previous week having already melted.
The new-look hut (it’s actually more like a little cottage, complete with verandah) is very smart inside, with a new wood stove, mattresses for six, a bench-top and table with window-side views – it’s a cosy place to spend the night.
Morning tea followed by an early lunch for some was supplemented by yummy fruit cake (a Gossy special!) and chocolate for the lucky ones, with standing room only for the latecomers.
Without the fire (despite Matt’s posturing with the axe), we soon began to cool off and five keen folk decided to head for Pohatuhaha trig point at 1368m, 500 metres beyond the junction. It was an impressive lookout, but a chilly wind restricted them to a few photos before heading back again.
With the weather threatening to worsen, we decided to drop down a bit before a brief snack stop, donning raincoats – only to later shed them and continue our downhill descent … not a slide, although one of us (in her hurry to reach the van) had a dramatic finish to the day when she managed to plummet head-first over the stile – much to the horror of her companions. Luckily, only minor injury was sustained.
It was a short day, and we were out by 1.30pm, but it was a good leg-stretch and we were home in plenty of time to do the chores and look forward to long summer days of roaming further afield.