Kiwi Saddle Hut, 25 September, and Studholme Saddle Hut 25-26 September, Kaweka FP, Map: BJ37
Combined report by Bruce and Colin
The trip list showed two tramps: the Saturday day out to Kiwi Saddle Hut and the overnighter to Studholme Hut – advertised with all the marketing appeal of “this is a small, cold 4-bunk hut with a bad fireplace”. Perhaps that’s why I was the only one that put their name down. Lynette, being trip organiser, felt obliged to lead the overnighter.
This was the first club tramp for six weeks after Covid restrictions, with a surprisingly small turnout. As we all prepared to set off from the Lakes car park, Campbell, hearing that Lynette’s pack weighed 15kg, immediately volunteered to carry it. Tramp co-reporter Bruce says: “In all my years of tramping, I’ve never known anyone to offer to carry someone else’s heavier pack without there being some sort of medical or fitness issue in an emergency situation.“There was a selfish element to this, because Campbell is on a fitness drive for his upcoming tramping trips to the South Island.”
Newbie Declan bounded off like a mountain goat, while Dorothy took up the rear (still feeling the effects of covid vaccine). The weather was perfect: a fine day and a cool westerly breeze to blow away the perspiration walking the 700m vertical climb up Smith Russell Track to Kuripapango. We were a relaxed group, not at all in a hurry. Most detoured to the lookout point near the top. We had magnificent views of Ruapehu and Tongariro clad in recent snow.
We were up to the main ridge after about an hour. It took about two and a half hours including rest stops to get to Kiwi Saddle Hut, which has been nicely cared for by Randall Goldfinch from Heretaunga Tramping Club. By the time the tail-enders arrived, Declan had cooked and was eating his noodles.
The day trampers farewelled Colin and Lynette, and their trip back was a satisfying no-pressure stroll up and over the hill. They came across many others on day walks; one man up from Cameron’s car park was wearing sandals.Colin takes up the overnighters’ story: Reality hit Lynette as she got her pack back, even though at least some of my lunch had gone from it. The tramp to Castle Camp doesn’t look much on the map but with the combination of heavy packs and lockdown-interrupted fitness, it seemed relentless and we were pleased to stop for a drink there. We faced the 200-metre climb up to Kaiarahi. The legs were aching and there was very little talking. It was nice to enjoy the downhill to the Studholme turn-off. The track from here drops steeply down to the hut and one has to be careful descending the shingle in the last bit. The track to the hut follows up the river; it is only 100 metres higher but it was a relief to see the shiny orange hut. I opened the door and was struck by the arctic air and icy dampness dripping from the mould.
Only kidding. In fact, it was a clean, well-insulated hut with no other occupants. But smoke stains were evidence that the fireplace was not so good.
For dinner, Lynette had brought her homemade dehy food which she spent some time trying to make palatable. After dinner, she performed some sort of ritualistic cavorting that may have been influenced by break-dancers. Legs were going in all directions and swinging wildly, before she finally dropped to the floor. This was followed with the downing of pills and later a vinegar concoction, while muttering something about cramp.
Descending to the bivvy was much more enjoyable than coming up the day before and the climb back up to the main ridge was short and sweet. We arrived at Mackintosh in time to have a long lunch and were fortunate to be under the verandah, as there was a downpour. Another couple of hours later, we were at the car park where Bruce had kindly shifted my car, the final 300-metre climb rounding off a weekend of 2.2km, mostly climbing.
Trampers: Kiwi Saddle and return: Shona Tupe, Bruce Hodgson, Campbell Living, Dorothy Sole and Declan Monteith.
Overnight to Studholme: Colin Jones and Lynette Morgan. Combined report by Bruce and Colin