Cone Mound Assault
16th - 17th April 2016
'' The idea began when Nikki decided to take Peter to Cone hut, because he hadn’t been there before. Stu was interested but said “can we go to Cone & not take the track”. Nikki piped up & said “well I haven’t been to Cone Mound before”. Dave Grainger was happy to facilitate the last two requests, particularly if it involved going over 1000m.
We set off from the Waiohine Gorge road end on Saturday morning, making good time to the turn off at the Lower Waiohine Track. Dropping down from the second bridge to pick up the Makaka Stream. While Nora was attempting to keep her feet dry, Nikkis approach was to wade through the pools waist deep (sounds worse than it was as she is only 5ft). Stu’s approach was to hold his sesame bar above the water as he went waist deep, forgetting about his camera and phone but they survived. We travelled until we reached the second fork on the true right of Makaka Stream.
From here the flat area up onto the spur looked like easy travel. It wasn’t, due to thick supplejack, ferns & shrubbery. The ridge was found due to some excellent navigation by the trip leader, however we also encountered a fairly steep bank to ascend before getting up onto it. Once on the spur, travel was fairly easy. Near the top the ridge led directly to Cone with minimal scrub at the bushline.
At about 700m one of our party was tiring. Our contingency had been, if a delay occurred, to stay near the top of Cone Mound in the bush line, rather than trying to descend back down the track to Cone Hut environs. Traveling up the spur we had realised the river travel & climb had taken longer than expected. So we started thinking about where to camp. We realised we would need to get our friend into a nice warm sleeping with some food and that we would need water. So two of our party headed to camp, while the three others headed off to the tarns while the wind made us dance on the tops.
On the way we encountered a majestical Stag on the way back, darting across the skyline (anyone who hasn’t seen “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” go now). There was a lot of fresh sign on the animal tracks we were following up the spur.
This all done we had a lovely dinner where Peter didn’t drink the 4 cans of Garage Project beer he’d brought (specially). The beer was relatively warm compared to the 5oC outside. After all HE thought we were going to Cone Hut & we were probably further away at camp from Cone Hut as we had been from the carpark. We settled down for sleep in a lovely mossy alcove just off track with the 65 km wind blowing well over the top of us after a little red wine and Baileys.
We woke in the morning, bacon for breakfast (as you should). We set off in overcast but clear weather down the track to cone saddle. The trip being fairly predictable from here on. We made respectable time of 1 ½ hours from the bottom of the saddle to the road end. Peter completing the entire trip still managing not to set his eyes on Cone Hut.
My first tramping trip ever, (at a mere 17 years of age) involved arriving at Cone Hut which was being renovated (in the late 1980’s) by a dedicated group of TTC volunteers. Being scolded for not having a fly, a kind TTC member then lent us one - and here I am! Never forget those acts of kindness to novices you find!
Nikki Joseph ''
- Nikki Joseph, Peter Hicks, Stuart and Nora Hutson, Dave Grainger
- (Nikki Joseph, leader and scribe).