For long-standing members of the TTC, Bush III was a “lost and found” weekend, when the intricacies of the map, the compass and the reality of the terrain were all supposed to easily come together for an enjoyable learning adventure. This year the focus of Bush III took on a more holistic approach – managing the components of a weekend trip – and at the same time incorporating route navigation appropriate for the skill and fitness level of each group of participants.
I was privileged to have a group whose stated aims at the planning evening were “views; something new; and some off-track navigation”. We spent Friday night at the Mt Holdsworth road end under a full moon and were away about eight Saturday morning up the Mt Holdsworth Track and down the Totara Creek track to grid ref 044686 [NZTopo50-BP34]. At that point the group’s navigational adventuring began. They successfully navigated along the ridge top south to the intersection with the Mangaterere track. Along the ridge top there were several opportunities to get views to the west – and they were magnificent vistas under a cloudless blue sky. We were easily able to pick out Kime Hut in its basin with the morning sun reflecting off the structure.
Once we were back on an orange-triangled route, travel was slightly more straight forward but tired legs were making themselves known. The steep downhill to Sayers Hut was the last test for the day and we arrived to a warm sun-drenched hut after a nine hour day. We shared the hut that night with a party of three who intended to float downstream on Sunday to the Walls Whare road end. They had already got a fire going in the new outside fireplace, so we were able to cook our meal over the fire that night. There is also a new open fire box inside the hut.
Sunday morning was a weather contrast from Saturday – grey overcast with occasional drizzle. We were able to cross the Waiohine River with ease and stopped at Totara Flats Hut, as some of the group had not previously been there. We then went up the Totara Creek track to the crossing. Along the way we encountered significant track damage resulting from the weather bomb that had hit the area the week before, and the water course was full of freshly deposited loose gravels.
At the crossing the group began its final navigation challenge – up the spur between the two branches of Totara Creek. From the impression given on the map [NZTopo50-BP34] the intended route of the group was up a reasonably defined spur to reach the northern end of Pig Flat. Some time later the group came out on the Mt Holdsworth Track uphill from Mountain House Shelter! There remains a challenge to rectify the navigation on that spur. Perhaps a ‘Bush IV’?
After a brief stop at the shelter we put the feet into gear and the minds into reflective mode as we made our way back to the cars to complete an enjoyable weekend experience in the Tararuas. A late-afternoon café stop in Carterton was a nice way to conclude what had been a rewarding learning and social Bushcraft III weekend.
- Party members
- (i) Bushcraftees: Duncan Coutts; Helen Gibbons; Kate Neyland; Bharat Pancha; (ii) Mentor: Bill Allcock(leader and scribe).