Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tararua adventures

I've just had a wonderful weekend up in the Tararua Range. On Friday I headed up to the road end at Holdsworth to join up with a group to have my initial assessment with Mountain Safety Council as a step on the pathway to becoming an instructor with them.

We arrived at the carpark at 7pm, carried out some introductions then walked into Donnelly Flats to set up camp for the night. I had opted to carry a bivvy bag rather than a tent. This saved on weight and I figured it was only me for the night so I didn't need a larger shelter.

After completing a few tasks it was time to settle down for the night. I had packed my 4-season sleeping bag with the thought that it might be a little chilly in the night. Lucky I did as we had a really hard frost overnight. I woke in the morning to find ice on the outside and inside of my bivvy bag. I was snug and warm in my sleeping bag though so was happy enough - until I had to get up and dressed. It was super cold. That cup of tea and plate of porridge was extremely welcome. Here's a picture of part of the campsite in the morning. My bivvy bag is on the right with my sleeping bag poking out of it.

The ground looks white... because it is! Brrrrr!

After breaking up camp the plan for the day was to walk along the Atiwhakatu Track, walk up the spur track to the Mountain House Shelter, have lunch and then descend back to the carpark down the Gentle Annie Track. While completing these we would be checked out by the instructors on specific aspects of navigation, group management, etc.

After the chilly start, the weather was fantastic so the walk itself was enjoyable. It was pretty slow going with lots of stops to cover aspects of navigation, environment, etc. After a lunch break at the Mountain House Shelter we headed down Gentle Annie with a stop at Rocky Lookout on the way down. We ended the day back at the car park with a debrief.

At this stage I turned round and headed back up the Gentle Annie track as I was due to meet up with my partner and his kids at Powell Hut. It took about two and a half hours to walk back up there and it was pretty much dark when I arrived. Powell Hut is just above the bushline. The following pictures are of the hut and the view from the hut.

There was quite a crowd in the hut for the night (that's the downside of huts being a short walk from a roadend) so it was pretty rowdy and busy. The next morning the weather was still looking good so we packed up and headed uphill to Mt Holdsworth. I bought a new camera a couple of weeks ago so am still playing around with settings. One thing it can do is panorama photos so I was trying that out and got really hooked on taking those. Anyway, here are some photos.

We had a snack break at the top of Mt Holdsworth before descending to the Atiwhakatu Track via the East Holdsworth Track. That track was pretty steep and a little rugged in places but it was pleasant walking through the bush hearing the birdsong on the way down. After meeting up with the Atiwhakatu Track we had a lunch break on the river before heading back to the car.

All in all it was a great weekend and nice to get up on the tops in such good weather - especially considering it's the middle of winter!

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