Penn Creek Hut via Field and Table Top
The call came out for leaders for weekend trips for the second half of 2016 and once again, the Tararua Park map came out as we pondered where we could go for winter trips. I chose an easy trip to Cone Hut to take advantage of the impressive renovations and Alan chose a trip to Penn Creek. I was interested in this one as I had never been there. My trip was pleasant and uneventful, so not too much to write about there, apart from hearty congratulations to all involved in the process of improving Cone Hut.
However, Alan's trip turned into quite an adventure, so I thought I would write about this one. Many Club members will know that Penn Creek doesn't have vast numbers of visitors as it is quite remote, so we were fairly confident we would have the six bed hut to ourselves. However as we were tucking into lunch at Field Hut, five members of the VUW Tramping Club suddenly appeared. We couldn't believe they were headed for Penn Creek as well. (We discovered that Penn Creek is one of the huts that their Club keeps an eye on for maintenance requirements.) A quick discussion with our party led to us deciding to continue to the turn off to Penn Creek and make a final decision there.
We had a magic trip along the ridge to the turnoff, though knee deep snow in places slowed our progress. The photo shows the sign telling us it was only two hours to Penn Creek Hut, and so we continued in the expectation that we would arrive by 5.00 p.m. However, it was a steep, slippery, snowy, slide down through the trees as we began our descent. A wrenched knee from one party member made us all the more cautious. Fortunately the promised rain for the day didn't amount to much more than drizzle. We finally reached the valley bottom as darkness fell and the rain grew more steady. Then it was another kilometre to the hut along a rather hard to find up and down rooty route. At 7.00 p.m. we saw lights in the hut, eight and a half hours after we left Otaki Forks. On arrival, the kind students offered us the beds and ten of us crowded into a hut designed for six. We were joined for the night by two rats, who looked rather healthy and well fed unfortunately, so there was a bit of screaming as they jumped from bed to bed. I'm glad to report that we caught one of them in a trap. On Sunday Alan Graham wanted to crack the whip and to get us going to avoid more travel in the dark, with only limited success as we didn't leave until 9.30 a.m. However, a tired but happy bunch returned to Otaki Forks as dusk descended.
We should like to pay tribute to Charlene Lim, on her very first overnight tramping trip, who never stopped smiling on a tramp which turned into a bit of an epic.
- Party members
- Alan Graham (leader), Charlene Lim, Jeanette Martin, Liz Martin (scribe), Alan Wright