Spine of the Fish  Day 16: getting back into business

Mixing work with pleasure on the Ruahine Range.

Leon Kinvig Hut to Longview Hut

Inside Leon Kinvig Hut

It’d rained during the night so we were worried that we were about to lose the golden weather. When we woke our worries seemed to be justified. The hut sat below a thick fog. We packed and made our way up the steep climb to the Ruahine Range, the name for the small mountain ridge line we were to walk that day.

We’d heard rumours that the overgrown track had been cut. Sadly it hadn’t. At one stage we found ourselves wandering through two metre high grass. I’m kind of glad that there is such a thing as two meter high grass from a biodiversity angle, but it was bloody wet and cold walking through it.

The track has recently been loaded up with more brand new Goodnature A24 traps, so it would be nice for the workers if it could be cleared.

Speaking of workers, the Leon Kinvig hut book is currently brimming with entries from volunteers. Almost half of those staying at the hut these days are working on the RWP stoat lines. It was great to see an old Forest Service Hut returning to its original use. Shelter for forest workers.

Looking back to Kinvig

Weather station with written instructions going back to 1985

As we rose up the steep incline the cloud started to evaporate and we could see that it was going to be a good day. By the time we hit the top we were above the cloud that covered the southern Hawkes Bay. As we walked along the mountains seemed to breathe. Cloud got sucked up to cover us then got exhaled out again to leave us in the sun. Eventually it burned off entirely. Perfect.

The morning’s mist clears

After we’d been on the tops for about ten minutes we got to work. The track along the top of the small mountain range has 100 double set DoC  200 traps spread along it at 100 metre intervals. We’d picked up a screw driver in pohangina and set to work checking and resetting traps that had been set off in the wind. We only found one stoat along the line which was a combination of disappointing and encouraging. We love getting heaps of stoats but the less we get the better.  

Trap check on the first double set.

Stoat!

We reckon that this line would be perfect training for mountain runners. It’s a good length and has plenty of up and down to get the heart going. It’s got great views all along it and has a nice hut to leave gear at. Best of all every hundred metres there’s a rest stop that needs an egg placed inside a box. Once the far end is reached there’s a ten km non stop run back to the hut. The car park sits less than an hour below.

Did I sell that? Keen?

View to Hawkes Bay

‘This is a pretty weird holiday,’ said Fiona as we sat down for lunch. To prove her right we striped off down to our shorts and kilt. As we ate the day’s ration of crackers, our undies, shirts and socks dried on the Leatherwood beside us. You never know when the next fine day will arrive when you’re walking long distance so it’s best to grab any opportunity you can to dry gear.

Red rock before Longview Hut

Longview Hut is one of our favourites. It’s a bit of an ugly duckling, but it’s warm, comfortable and has heaps of room. It’s not very popular but is a great intro hut for families. Yes there’s a steep climb that’ll get the kids moaning, but it doesn’t go on for long and the view and fire box makes it worthwhile. It’s classed as a ‘Serviced Hut’, but if you think you’ll need cheering up with a fire at the end of the day, give DoC a ring before you head out to check on the firewood situation.

At 1200 metres it does get some extreme weather. We’ve stayed there in a November ice storm and winds can be extreme.

Two weeks before we started on this journey I came up here to service the trapline with Ian, another volunteer. The wind was the strongest I’d ever experienced. We had trouble walking on the most exposed parts of the track and got blown over several times in the area above the hut. At one stage the wind was so strong I got blown over and couldn’t stand up again. I had sand in my eyes and mouth and breathing was difficult. The wind seemed to suck the air right out of my lungs and they weren’t strong enough to drag it back in. It was an amazing experience, but not one for kids, so it’s always a good idea to check the weather before you come up to Longview.

But this day was different. There was no wind and our biggest problem was sunburn.

We got to the hut at a leisurely 3.30pm. I set about transmitting all my photos and stories to my friend Helen, who’s making this jumbled mess make sense before uploading it all to the website for me. Modern technology is amazing. I worried about battery life as several megabytes of photos and words made their way through the air to Palmerston North.

I left my phone on the window sill to do its magic, then went outside to dig up our second stash from the helipad. Once unearthed we found that our cheese wasn’t mouldy and that Fiona had packed licorice.

Digging up the stash.

Recovered food stash – YUM!

Matt and Antony joined us in the late afternoon. They had come for a day’s hunting after a wedding at a Hawkes Bay vineyard. Antony was a little worse for wear, but they donned their camo gear and headed out before tea…to arrive back at 8.30pm empty handed.

Matt and Antony – hunters from Tauranga.

Longview hut and the next two days work

The forecast for the next day was wind. The hut was already starting to shake as we talked the pros and cons of 1080 into the night.

Wilderlife