Ruapehu: around the Mountain, the East South Track
Anniversary weekend 19 to 21 Jan 2008
Five intrepid trampers left the comfort of a backpackers in Ohakune and headed for the Waihohonu track off the Desert Road. The weather was very warm and cloudy, perfect for tramping across the desert section of the Ruapehu around the mountain track. Our first stop was the old Waihohonu hut which has had an excellent makeover. We enjoyed reading the historical interpretations displayed on the walls. Mary did a diversion to check out the new Waihohonu some 20 minutes away in the north direction. For the next hour or two we felt like camels plugging our way through soft sand. It was a welcome break to stop and view the crystal clear water in the Ohinepango Springs. The plugging continued till lunch time when the track became more solid with firmer scoria. It was most pleasant being out in the open with views of the Kaimanawa Range and Desert road.
The afternoon continued up and down, crossing ridges including the Whangaehu lava flow. Late afternoon the Rangipo hut came suddenly into view. This comfortable hut had one occupant, a young man from Southampton. Later, Southhampton (we never found out his name but he answered to Southampton), was found cutting firewood in bare feet to boil his billy. It was not going well at all because of his wood cutting skill deficit. Our gallant man David, spotting an accident waiting to happen, came to the rescue and offered to show him how a Canadian cuts wood. Offer readily accepted, axe changes hands, all eyes on David as he sets out to split the wood. Will he do it or will he miss was on all our minds. After a pregnant silence, the axe hits the target and the wood split evenly in half. Whew, the TTC image was preserved and David’s Canadian ego remained intact. All was well.
The next day dawns fine and warm for the tramp to the Mangaehuehu Hut. Again it was a very pleasant plod up and down ridges and the big Waihianoa gorge. DOC have really gone overboard with scary lahar notices warning people not to stop or linger. We reached the hut in good time mid afternoon. That night we were joined by Southampton and an earnest American student who was volunteering for DOC. He was unusual; first he asked for toilet paper as he was surprised trampers had to supply their own. The next day he asked Mary if she would carry out his rubbish to the road end. Mary has been asked to do many things but this request was over the top. That night we enjoyed stunning sunsets over Girdlestone and the Waiouru.
Again the next day was hot but it did not matter so much as we were much more in the beach bush. At the turn off to Blyth hut we dropped our packs and visited the well appointed comfortable hut. By lunch time we had reached the Ohakune Road where our pick up van was waiting to take us back to our cars left safely in Ohakune. By this time the heat was bearing down on us so we were glad to finish and dive into a coffee shop and have a cool drink. This was the perfect ending for a thoroughly pleasant well organised trip. Thank you Jude and the rest of the team for making it such a fun weekend.
- Party members
- Jude Wi llis (leader), David Holland, Barbara Camfield, Helen Hanify and Mary Inglis (scribe)