At 8.30am on Tuesday 14th of July, five Lindisfarne College, two Woodford House, two Iona College, one Mount Maunganui College and one Hauraki Plains College students plus two guides, Graham and David, arrived at Lindisfarne College – gear in bags and ready to pile into the school van to drive off into the Ruahines for a two night tramp.
As we left Lindisfarne, the rain poured down and threatened to make the tramp a wet and miserable one. Fortunately, it disappeared as we arrived at the Sentry Box Carpark on Mangleton Road, a mere five-minute walk from the Sentry Box Hut. We wrote in the hut book saying when and where we were going and when we were expected out.
The tramp started with a climb uphill that took the group three hours to reach the Parks Peak Hut where we ate lunch. A couple of cold egg and cheese toasties were my lunch that I had prepared the day before, as well as some jet planes. After a 30-minute lunch break, our packs went back on our backs for a slippery and muddy downhill journey to Upper Makaroro Hut that was supposed to take 90 minutes. Unfortunately, it ended up taking a little longer than that, as one of the girls tripped over and slid a few metres down the hill, injuring herself and slowing her down. Fortunately, she didn’t slide any further than she did as she would’ve had a big drop into a shallow river.
Day 1 of walking ended with wet boots since we had to cross the knee-deep river drenching our boots. We then put our tents up just before dark and cooked dinner. I had a chicken and tomato backcountry meal with a bit of chocolate as well. I went to sleep early around 9pm so I wouldn’t be tired the next day.
The second day started with two minute noodles for breakfast. Then, taking most things out of my bag and only carrying an extra jacket, water and lunch, we headed out for a day trip. It started with an uphill walk for an hour and a half on the way to the hill ‘Tupari’. The rain the previous night continued and made the track slippery and muddy, which proved a struggle for some. We didn’t make it all the way as we hit thick fog and rain with icy cold winds when the bush started changing about 1100 metres up. Visibility was poor, so Graham decided it was safest to go down out of the wind to eat lunch.
We then proceeded to march down the hill we came up and back down to our tents. I went and helped collect firewood from along the sides of the river for the next people who would use the hut. We found big logs, which I carried back and split them into smaller pieces with the axe to replace the wood we had used. The night ended with wraps for my dinner and just chatting around the fire. I went to bed around 9pm again to get some good rest.
We got up around 7am to set off by 9am back up the hill toward Parks Peak hut where we had lunch. I ate the rest of my wraps for breakfast and then packed down my very wet tent, as the rain had wreaked havoc on it. As I was ready a little earlier than 9am, I split the remaining logs to try to keep warm.
We crossed the river to start the journey, which re-soaked my already damp boots and wet the still slippery track back up the hill we came down the first day. With continual stops on the way up for those at the back to catch up, the trip to Parks Peak Hut took two hours and thirty minutes. The rain lessened on the way up, but snow was quickly taking over, freezing the ground plants and leaving icicles hanging off tree leaves all over the track. When we finally reached the hut where we ate lunch, the deck was iced over and was extremely slippery.
My lunch consisted of jet planes and the last of my crackers. Most people had drunk all their water and disappointment came when we learned that the water tank spout had frozen, so no one could top up their bottles. The descent went quickly and we reached the Sentry Box Hut in no time at all. There were a lot of skid marks left on the track due to everyone constantly slipping over in the mud on the way down.
Overall, it was still a good tramp despite the cold, wet and snowy conditions that were present over the three days and I was glad to be a part of the trip with everyone there. I am very appreciative of the support I received from FMC and our group leaders on the Duke of Edinburgh Silver tramp.
We’re delighted to share another trip report from recent recipients of FMC’s Youth Award Grant. These grants are awarded four times a year, so if you’re inspired to get some financial support, head over to FMC’s website to apply.