Orongorongos, Main Range, Jans Track MF
From now on I will not look up at the Main Range from the Rainbow Bridge at the end of the Five Mile in wonder. Because of this trip, it has been given the stamp of exploration. Of course, talking to people and getting up and down was fun too, it’s just that that’s what felt best afterwards.
After waltzing in on the Five Mile we crossed the river to Waerenga Hut, the TTC’s residence in the river valley. After passing two more private huts, we continued up the spur, Colin leading for at least half an hour before I walked (ran) up the hill in front to the ridge top.
One needed to be very warmly dressed to feel ‘comfortable’ on the ridge as it was a cold and windy day, with a threat of rain for the afternoon. Exposed places were especially cold, where old silver beeches had been recently blown over leaving tussock grass and shingle behind. The bush was o.k. at the beginning but quickly deteriorated into scrub and lawyer. We bashed our way along this very narrow ridge for nearly two hours, getting gashed, lost and stuck in the process. We took a break for lunch at the top of a large shingle slip with a view of South Saddle and Mt Matthews. The sides of Mt Matthews were incredibly steep and had enormous shingle slopes that were eating away at the bush.
Once we arrived at the Jans Track turn off we started going down. Jan certainly didn’t make anything fancy; he just went straight down the whole way, no funny business. Well, what was a bit funny was that he had marked the track with cow tags in order to tell how long you had left before reaching the bottom. A neat idea! After crossing the river and reaching the Turere, I and three others walked up the real Jacob’s Ladder, and we all marched out the Five Mile together, welcoming a chance of conversation out of the wind.
Or what it’s like tramping in the school holidays Sometimes during the school holidays John Thomson brings members of the Thomson clan. Trip leaders have no worries because the young Thomsons have been well trained, and are strong enough for a MF trip.
The trips are different when they are with us. The young ones are relaxed enough amongst the gnarly old-timers to ask questions, some rather amusing. For example, after walking up the very steep spur for a quite while, I stopped for a rest. “Why have we stopped?’ was the response. “I need some more oxygen,” I replied. And on the very steep descent down Jans Track we stopped again. “Is this an oxygen stop?” “No,” I said, “some of us are very old and have creaky knees, you wait – you’ll be old one day.” “Oh, a knee stop then.” But the gnarly old-timers have been to some rugged places. For example, at lunch time a young one asked, “Have you ever had lunch at a worse place?” “Oh yes,” I replied, “many, and sometimes it rains too.”
But what a delight to watch nimble young people bounce, jump and leap their way down a steep hill, swinging between the trees. My final laugh was before we headed back along the Five-Mile when the lads were comparing their tiny scratches; then they looked at us and asked, “Why do you people bleed so much?” Oh to be 50 or 60 years younger again. David Ogilvie
- Party members
- Helen Beaglehole, Robin Chesterfield, Colin Cook, Marg Pearce, Bernie Molloy, David Ogilvie (leader),
Dugal Thomson (scribe), John Thomson, Tommy Thomson and Bill Wheeler