Volleys, Scunge & Mac No. 17 - Archives - Sydney University Bushwalkers

V S & M

No. 17, 1999


1998 President's Report

The Adventures of The Fume Cupboard, Mr Bean, Cookie Monster and Vanessa on the Bungleboori

Guouogang in The Mist

Fred Dagg on Bushwalking

To the Wollangambe with Super Bart

Nickname Test

What I Did For My Holidays

The day-and-a-half day-trip


Page layout and editing by Anthony Dunk.


1998 President's Report

1998 has been another successful and active year for SUBW, with a myriad of trips to new locations and a throbbing social scene. Much of the Blue Mountains, as well as more distant parts of Australia including the Arthurs and the Kimberley, were explored by intrepid members.

New (and locally unidentified) volley prints were left in Korea, South America, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. 1998 also marked a new and exciting stage in the development of the club, with a successful joint trip with the SU Speleological Society (SUSS), to Tuglow Caves. It was a very enjoyable venture for all involved, and I hope that such combined trips will continue in future years, as they enrich the repertoire of members activities.

The President's Bludge Trip to Gingra Creek was remarkable: Aside from the wine consumed, a huge number of trout (40) were caught over two days, a record for recent years!

On the social front, two club members were married in May - congratulations Penny and David!

This year has seen the club further increase its presence on the World Wide Web, with our WWW walks program being updated regularly. An e-mail list of club members is now in operation, and this has proved valuable in increasing the number of members spontaneously organising trips and events. Unfortunately, there has been a partial demise of the Wednesday lunchtime meetings, lowering the accessibility of the club to new student members. SUBW should endeavour to preserve this, in order that new student members can move up through the club, leading trips and joining the committee.

Here's to a successful 1999 for SUBW!

Stephanie Cuthbert.


The Adventures of The Fume Cupboard, Mr Bean, Cookie Monster and Vanessa on the Bungleboori

by Matthew Hole and Vanessa Haverd

27 - 30 Dec, 1998

`Yep, OK, CYA, Bye', and they were away; away from the Land-Crusher-infested Rock Hill car park.

Four canyoneers and half a group of twenty misguided tourists (who thought they were on their way to do Hole-in-the-Wall Canyon) headed off towards Dead-Tree Canyon. The group size was substantially diminished when the Fume Cupboard told the tourists to `bugger off', and suggested they learn to read a map.

After a half-hour scrub bash, the group of intrepid adventurers reached the mouth of Dead-Tree Canyon. It ate Vanessa÷ well, almost. Cookie-Monster stepped on a dead tree which immediately gave way, careering into Vanessa. Nothing that a few hunky guys couldn't fix. The Fume Cupboard also helped.

After some lunch, they started the long bash down the south branch of the Bungleboori. The river had its charm, meandering through an impressive sandstone gorge. Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder. And the beholders soon tired of the beauteous dead trees, scunge, Everest-sized boulders, snags and the sounds and smells emanating from the Fume Cupboard, who later remarked that `every ****ing step of every ****ing metre of this ****river is a ***ing trial and tribulation.'.

The party tramped (shuffled) about 1 km downstream to the night's campsite under an overhang. In the late afternoon, Mr Bean, the Fume Cupboard and Cookie Monster headed off to do 4-Dope Canyon. (Where was that dope plantation?) That night, they began to hack into Cookie Monster's 2 L supply of port, easing the pain of the day's battle scars.

The second day began with further battle with the Bungleboori, which was rewarded with time off to explore Bjelke's Mind. It was narrow, dark and twisted, just like its namesake. That afternoon the party pressed on towards the junction of the north and south branches of Bungleboori Creek, ending the day with an ascent of The Tower (a 100 m giant pagoda). Cookie Monster and Mr Bean were the only ones stupid enough to conquer the true summit, climbing a shear rock face with no protection. They were rewarded with magnificent views of Bungleboori Creek. From that vantage point, any assault on Don't-You-Worry-About-That Canyon looked difficult.

After an idyllic night's rest on a sandy beach under starry skies, the adventurers (pack of fools- whose idea was this anyway?) bashed upstream to the junction, and headed up the north branch. Two hours later they arrived at a point 200 m from the previous night's camp site, and the inlet of Don't-You-Worry-About-That Canyon. Mr Bean, The Fume Cupboard and Cookie Monster took off to attempt reversing the canyon. The first challenge they faced, about 50 m upstream, was a 25 m pitch. After a couple of fruitless (and downright dangerous) climbing attempts by Mr Bean, Cookie Monster found a by-pass around to the left. The canyon continued upstream, up a series of short pitches, most of which were negotiated by the tried and true tactics of log-scaling poles and portable handholds (e.g. Mr bean's shoulder). Eventually, the canyon petered out into a U-shaped sandstone gorge.

After returning to the Bungleboori, the party found Vanessa lost in `The Lord of the Rings' (a fantasy-world free of scunge). Following a short repast, the party continued upstream to a side gully which they climbed in order to access 4-man canyon (or was it just a stream?). 4-man Canyon commenced with a 10 m abseil into a very short, yet promising constriction, but alas opened out into a fairly unremarkable creek.

At around 6 pm, the party returned and camped on the sandy banks of the Bungleboori. That night, the rest of the port was demolished, along with Cookie Monster's particularly choice smoked mussels.

The final day was more of the same, with the occasional stop to identify the Coachwood Gullies and the outlet of Crikey (Mother of God) Canyon. The last stop prior to lunch was a well-deserved bath in Bubble Bath Canyon.

Following a long slack lunch (LSL), the party ridge-bashed back to the car and civilisation. On the way home, they stopped at a pub with no beer - or at any rate, no old beer and all the other beers were flat. Richmond hospitality at its finest!


Guouogang in The Mist

by Bart van Deurzen

1998

Well, there I was. All psyched up for a good weekend of walking in the Blue Mountains. Not as fit as I could have been but believing in mind over matter. The party of three consisting of the always fit and intrepid Vanessa and the up to then unknown to me speleologist, Mathew, who had a slight cold.

From the start in Strathfield on Friday we had been telling each other how ready we were for a good hard walk, and so we decided to stop in Katoomba to get some more snacks for along the way. One can never have too many snacks, nor extra batteries for the night.

We drove down to Narrowneck and parked the car. I had heard about Narrowneck but had never done a neck bash, so I was keen to find out what it was all about. So we started. It was dark and rainy. It had been raining for a while so the fire trail was soggy and sometimes slippery. I still haven't been on Narrowneck during daytime but from the lights that were visible in the valley it seems as though there are some views of Megalong Valley. Anyway, we got to the end of the fire trail, Matt happily coughing away, and we were all tired and decided to stop and camp under the overhang.

In the morning, after a short walk, we arrived at the viewpoint (just before the scramble) and the sight was fantastic and horrible at the same time. All around us in the valleys there were patches of mist, swiftly moving, appearing and disappearing as the day started. However great this sight was, it meant a wet day. Luckily there was a bit of a track there so you don't brush past heaps of wet bush, but wet it was still.

We walked around the Wild Dogs and down Yellow Pup Ridge to the Cox's. We had lunch at the junction with Kanangra Creek where I managed to start a fire in the rain, and so we sat there for a bit in our rain gear listening to Matt's cough. Some fishermen walked past that seemed to be staying in a nearby hut, after apparently having flown in by helicopter (there were two there).

After lunch it was time to start the great ascent. Vanessa had heralded that this was "the tallest peak in the southern Blue Mountains" and had "great views". So up we went. We got as far as Bullagowar (the little peak just before the big "G") when it started to get dark. It was still raining but we found some dry leaves to start a fire, although it took most of the air in our lungs.

Luckily there was a much welcomed rain spell so we could cook our mac. The next morning we would get up early and climb up Guouogang, enjoy the view and walk back the same distance we covered on the Friday night and Saturday. Fortunately, I didn't realise this fact because my feet were getting painful. It was easy to sleep that night.

So, down we went from Bullagowar, over the spectacular viewing platform where we had 5 metres visibility and up again to conquer Guouogang. The top turned out to be virtually peakless and it took us almost an hour of scrub bashing to find the bloody trig that can be reached almost without seeing any of the scungy stuff that had scratched us. When we finally got there, we had a 360 degree view of... nothing! Thick fog was all around us, a big cloud blanketing everything we had come for. Was I ever happy my camera was broken and I hadn't taken it.

We went back to camp, me with painful feet, Matt coughing, and Vanessa fit and intrepid as ever. After breaky we decided to go down a different spur to keep us from boredom. Of course we made some mistake that lead us into the last few hundred metres of a creek with stinging nettles and stinging trees. This time I was really lucky because I didn't know about the stinging trees and did not get stung. Other than that the creek was actually very beautiful with much variety in the creek bed.

We crossed the Cox's after filling up our water bladders, had some of those snacks and went up Yellow Dog. From there on, the way back was the same as how we came. Vanessa suggested we enjoy the view from nearby Splendour Rock, but by now I had a feeling about how splendorous the views were that trip - so we skipped it.

Darkness fell as we reached the top of Narrowneck. The evening brought a dense fog that kept me wet and cold despite a good woollen sweater and thermals. My feet were very painful by now and I counted my steps to fight the boredom of the walk back to the car. Upon arrival I put on every spare bit of clothing I had left and waited for the others. When they arrived, Matt was coughing and Vanessa fit and intrepid as ever.

The car locks had been molested by attempted burglary - just to top it all off. We had some dinner at the Parrot's or Parakeet's Cafe or something, which can be recommended except for the cold.

I was coughing for at least two weeks after that, but at least I had done a neck bash and had climbed "the big G", even though I only saw it in close up. It was a good walk.


Fred Dagg on Bushwalking

[During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mr Dagg graciously consented to broadcast regularly on radio on matters of the utmost importance ranging from the general character of the human experience to the offering of helpful hints to those entrusted with the care and governance of the nation and its economy. Especially valuable, of course, has been his work in the area of leisure and recreation. Being a New Zealander, Mr Dagg has been in an excellent position to engage in many years of comprehensive immersion in almost every form of leisure pursuit. ACKO].

Gidday. I'd like to have a look at one of the great outdoor activities, and I'm referring here, of course, to the age-old business of tramping, or hiking, or bushwalking, or bush-sitting-down-and-resting, depending on how you feel about it.

The first thing to do is to avail yourself of a certain amount of equipment, including a pair of good sturdy boots(*), so you can wear holes in your pair of good sturdy socks and get a comprehensive range of good sturdy blisters on your pseudopodia. You'll need a pack of some sort so that you can carry essential supplies into the unknown and drink them when your interest in the endemic dicotyledons is flagging.

The main thing to remember before embarking on one of these little adventures is that at some stage you will get lost and when you get lost there are several cardinal rules to bear in mind or you'll remain lost, which is not a good thing to remain.

The first rule to take account of once you've achieved lostness is not to panic. You should ignore this rule. There's nothing wrong with a good panic. In fact, its a cleansing experience and, if you can't go through a bit of blind hysterical panic out there in the sticks, where can you go? There are killjoys about though, and you can't be too careful. Of course, if you don't panic, don't panic about it, you'll probably panic later.

There's probably someone in your party who knows how to use his watch as a compass and which berries are edible and how to light a fire with two pieces of dehydrated pizza. This person is called a leader and should be tied to a tree and ignored. The best thing to do is to wait till night falls and then simply navigate your way home using the stars.

This is a fairly simple business and you don't have to know where the Panhandle is relative to due west. All you have to do is pick out some celestial landmark, Venus is a good one, and try to remember where it is relative to where you live. Then, of course, all you've got to do is keep walking until its in that position and you'll be home. You might be a street or two out, but the blisters on your feet will have raised you to a height of about 90 metres above the houses and you should be able to make out the roof of your own residence and make your way to it in your own time.

(*) The reader should take note that Mr Dagg, as a New Zealander, appears to be unacquainted with the V-word.


To the Wollangambe with Super Bart

by Anthony Dunk

8 - 9 Nov, 1997

We passed through Colo Heights and drove along the dog-leg 4WD track that leads to the start of Drip Rock fire trail. We started the long road bash by mid-morning. Several hours later we arrived at the end of the track. We set off into the bush on the correct bearing but soon realised that we had left the trail at the wrong spot! We retraced our steps, found the correct spur, and headed off again.

A rough track took us to the first knoll but after that we were walking through pretty much natural bush. The walking wasn't too hard and eventually we came to the steep end of the spur. Ahead we could see Island Mountain.

We turned right and began our descent towards the pass marked on Bob Buck's Colo Sketch Map. We soon reached a set of seemingly impassable cliffs. Several minutes of searching revealed an old rock cairn which none of the SUBW oldies had destroyed yet. Thankfully, we followed the route the cairns marked down a tricky crack in the rocks.

By the time we reached the small creek we were getting thirsty and hungry since it was well into the afternoon at this stage. The creek wasn't flowing much, but there was enough water to cook up some tea on my trangia burner, with the billy balanced on rocks above it.

The tea and rest was much enjoyed but we knew it was getting late and we shouldn't hang around too long. Clew's Cave was close by, so a short side trip to it was obligatory. Bart and I both signed the logbook in the cave expressing sentiments like "I hope we reach the river before dark!", and drew the traditional horseshoe logo.

We set off down Clew's shortcut as the afternoon light began to fade. It was a bit of a rock scramble with a few small drops to negotiate, but nothing too difficult which was a big relief.

Finally we reached the Colo just as the dusk was turning into night. Since we didn't want to rock scramble in the dark, we settled for a steep sandy slope by the river as our home for the night. We dug a little sand away to make level spaces for sleeping and a fire, and then set up camp.

In the morning we graded the sand with sticks to remove all traces of our presence, and headed off down river to keep our date with the Wollangambe.

The Colo River is quite pleasant here with many large boulders, white sand, and not too much mud. I was disgusted to find an abandoned li-lo on the river bed and dragged it out of the water. Not wanting to carry it out with me, I buried it under some rocks where it will probably still be in fifty years time!

Finally, we reached our destination! The cool clear waters of the Wollangambe bubbled merrily into the Colo past our feet. But this picture of unspoiled natural beauty was tarnished somewhat when Bart and I started to discover a proliferation of old tins and softdrink cans in the sandy river-bed! Bart at first said that he was going to collect them and carry them out, but soon we realised that we would become too heavily laden if we tried to extract them all. The source was obviously somewhere upstream on the Wollangambe - most likely careless day-trippers liloing the "tourist section".

We explored a little way up the Wollangambe and I found some beautiful Colo River tea trees in flower. The lower Wollangambe was quite pleasant and certainly worthy of spending more time in.

We pushed on down the Colo again, scrambling along boulders and pushing past water gums. Eventually we came to the point where the cliffs broke briefly on the left hand side to admit a small creek. We found a very pretty beach beside the river where we ate lunch and had a swim.

After a most rewarding break we reluctantly shouldered our packs again and took to the bed of the small side creek. Bob Buck's map shows that this is a passable route so we were pretty confident. Our confidence soon turned to bewilderment when we were faced with a 10 metre dry waterfall! Fortunately the rock was mostly dry and not too slippery. We worked our way up the waterfall using a network of ledges. A small rope would have been useful for pack hauling - but unfortunately we had none. In places we had to pass our packs to each other as we climbed.

Having reached the top of the unmarked falls, we consulted Bob Buck's map and the topo map again. Bob Buck suggested going straight up what looked like a very intimidating cliff! Being a bit of a wimp when it comes to rock climbing, I suggested an alternative route to Bart which looked easier on the topo map.

The creek forked and we took the right-hand branch. Here the cliffs receded and it became easy to climb out on the right to our chosen spur. The going was quite straight-forward until we reached the top of the spur. Here a small cliff line made us spend a few minutes searching for safe passage to the top. A crack in the cliffs and some convenient tree branches made for an easy ascent.

Once at the top, we were rewarded with some nice views, but since it was getting late in the day again we quickly pushed on. The going became quite tough because of the thick scrub growing on the ridge-top. I had gaiters on but still managed to sustain many cuts. Poor Bart just had shorts!

With some good compass work and map reading we eventually pushed our way through the scrub to the Drip Rock fire trail. We paused for a brief rest and then began the tedious road bash back to the car.

Bart's feet were blistered and sore, and our legs stung from cuts. The walk continued on past dusk and into the night. It seemed to last forever.

After several hours we reached the car with great relief and headed back to Sydney. It was a great feeling to have reached our goal, but I wasn't thinking about doing anything quite so challenging again, at least for a little while!


Nickname Test

Test your SUBoir knowledge. Match the nicknames on the left to the people on the right...

  • Bean
  • Frank P. Mule
  • Door sausage
  • Groper
  • Old Mole
  • The Bishop
  • Super Bart
  • Acko
  • Fume Cupboard
  • Nessy
  • Wally
  • Cookie Monster
  • Vanessa
  • Chris
  • Roger
  • Stephen
  • Ashley
  • John
  • Andrew
  • Matthew
  • Dave
  • Rob
  • Bart
  • James

WHAT I DID FOR MY HOLIDAYS

by John Atkinson

Sunday afternoon, 3rd January: I flew to Wellington and caught the night train to the army town of Wairouru, where I slept in the derelict railway station.

Monday: I had brought some food from Sydney (rice, lentils, spaghetti, leb bread, chocolate, spices), but needed more, so I had to wait till ten o'clock when the shop opened, as it was a public holiday. This meant I missed the bus north. I bought butter, cheese, jam, peanut butter, sultanas, and a kilo of bacon scraps (a NZ speciality). Then I walked one and a half hours north along the Desert Road in heatwave and heavy traffic -- everyone was heading home after their Christmas break. Eventually I was picked up by the 650th car (by actual count), who then went out of his way to drop me off near the start of my walk. Buggered by the heat, I took the rest of the day off, spent a few hours scrambling around in the bush near the start of the track, and camped under a big log.

THE KAIMANAWA-KAIWEKA TRAVERSE

The Kaimanawa and Kaiweka Forest Parks consist of a series of ranges to the south-east of the central North Island volcanoes. The main ones are the Middle Kaimanawa, Makorako, and Kaiweka Ranges, each 30 kilometres or more long, and there are several others between them. These ranges, running from NNE to SSW, are connected by lower ridges which separate the drainage north to Lake Taupo and east into the Mahako River from that to the south into the Rangitikei and Ngaruroro Rivers. The tops reach a maximum height of just

over 1700 meters at Makorako, the highest peak in the Kaimanawas, and at the two peaks of Kaiweka and North Kaiweka. Over all this country, numerous volcanic eruptions have scattered ash and pumice, in some places to a depth of tens of meters. Above the treeline at about 1300 meters is sub-alpine scrub and bare ground. Below this level are beech forests in the north, while towards the south the land is drier and more barren, covered with scrub and tussock.

The Kaimanawa Park has a few huts, and routes which are marked by cairns on the tops and plastic tags in the beech forest. The Kaiweka Park has quite a lot of huts and better defined tracks. There is a large area of private land between the two Parks, mostly without huts or tracks.

In the last century, sheep were run in the upper Mangamaire Stream and Ngaruroro Rivers, as well as on the open tops to the south. These would have been pretty tough sheep. Today, the whole area is mostly used by hunters (red deer and sika), who helicopter in to the huts up near the bush-line, and fishermen and rafters, who fly in to the airstrip at Boyd Lodge in the upper Ngaruroro. Trampers are less common. I met a total of 12 people in 12 days: two parties at the hut I slept near at the end of the first day; a family group and a not-too-serious hunter who had flown in to huts in the central area; and, on the last day, a few fishermen heading in to Kiwi Mouth on the lower Ngaruroro.

The ridges give walking which is usually straightforward but dry, with steep slopes up and down to the streams at the end of each day. My trip stuck to these tops as much as possible, heading from north-west (the Kaimanawa Road) to south-east (Kuripapango). There are also excellent possibilities for river walking, in particular down the Rangitikei and Ngaruroro. The going in places would be rather scrambly, with lots of crossings, and impossible when the rivers were high.

Day 1: This consisted of climbing up on to the Umukarikari Range, traversing along the tops, then dropping done to the head of the Waipakahi River at Waipakahi Hut. This took me from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., with sit-downs every twenty minutes or so. I thought I must be even less fit than I had reckoned I was, but later realised I was probably affected by the extreme heat. Once I broke out of the beech forest on the way up, there were extensive views of Lake Taupo to the north and Mount Ruapehu to the south-west.

Day 2: This was supposed to be a short day (three or four hours) over Junction Top on the Middle Range and down to the upper Rangitikei River. Reaching the top, I did a side trip south to Te Raketuangiangi. The ridge could be seen continuing south-west to Thunderbolt (about 1 day's walk), then on into the distance. I set off down to the east, but ended up on the wrong branch of the ridge down, which led to several hours scrub-bashing to accomplish about one kilometre, and finally dumped me into a steep gully which took me down to the river, where I slept on a shingle bank.

Day 3: Since it was still as hot as ever, I took the day off and went for a wander along the river with the aim of finding the ridge I should have come down. It was a very pleasant shingly little creek. After going a couple of kilometres downstream and meeting the highest eel in NZ (according to the book, eels are found only below 1150 m), I decided that what I was after was probably upstream; which turned out to be the case. So I moved my camp up to the official campsite, where I was welcomed by the official camp weka. Every respectable hut in the South Island has a weka, but (again according to the book) there are no wekas left in the North Island except in Northland and Poverty Bay. This weka had obviously not read the book.

Day 4: It was still hot the next day, so I packed plenty of water and set off up the ridge to Te More, at the northern end of the Island Range. A kilometre or two along this range I found a pool, which was fortunate as I was consuming my stocks rather rapidly. A side ridge to the east eventually led to Peak 1699 m, where the pack was dropped for a side trip to Makorako, a steep peak to the south. Then I walked north and east down a long ridge to camp by Mangamaire Stream. The country down here was very dry, with low tea-tree (kanuka) scrub. This was a fairly long day.

Day 5: After a little light rain overnight, the weather was cloudy and finally cooler. A late start was made up a poorly marked route (originally used to bring sheep into the Mangamaire) skirted above the Mangamingi saddle and down through beech forest to Mangamingi Stream, a tributary of the Ngaruroro. The valley soon opened out and after about 10 kilometres a well worn track from the Omaru River to the north-east was encountered, which climbed up the south side of the valley to Boyd Lodge, a large hut.

Day 6: I made another late start, past the airstrip and down the Ngaruroro which had cut its way through thick beds of pumice and volcanic ash to form quite high cliffs, then up a ridge on the north side through tea-tree and then beech and mixed forest to drop into the head of the Harkness Valley at Tussock Hut. Here a family with three kids had settled in for a ten-day stay, and provided me with cups of tea for the next three hours. Then I set out down the tussock-filled Harkness basin, followed by an interesting little gorge till Ngaawapurua Stream was reached and followed up a short distance to Harkness Hut. Here Albert the fat hunter was already ensconced, having flown in to Boyd and walked across the day before. He was heading the same way as me, and we were to run into each other two or three times over the next day and a half.

Day 7: The next day was another longish one. I left the hut at eight o'clock to climb the ridge to Te Pukeohikarua Hut for lunch, followed by a wander round the Te Pukeohikarua tops looking for the non-existent tarn marked on the map. Picking up my pack again, I followed a long ridge east with a fair few ups and downs to Ahurua. Here a steeply sloping swamp provided me with a good drink, so that I was able to have a dry camp in an extremely scenic location at the south-eastern end of the tops, just past the Mangaturutu Hut turnoff and a couple of hours short of my intended stop at Venison Tops. It rained a little overnight, so I had to put the fly up again.

Day 8: Two hours to Tira (Kelvinator) Lodge on Venison Tops; Albert had passed me while I was camped, and I caught up with him again just before the hut. He kept going, while I declared a bludge day, with a side trip across Venison Tops.

Day 9: Another eight o'clock start, and another long low ridge to the east to reach the last of the north-south ranges, the Kaiwekas. Sufficient water was carried to allow a high camp. After reaching the Kaiweka Range at Whetu peak, a couple of hours were given over to a side trip north along the tops.

Heading south again, cloud descended as I climbed past North Kaiweka. I decided to leave this summit to the next morning in the hope that it would clear overnight. I then camped on the bump between North Kaiweka and Kaiweka. An excursion was made to Kaiweka in the murk to make sure I knew just where I was in case the weather really crapped out and I had to escape down a ridge to the east.

Day 10: After light rain overnight, I set off in a high wind which blew me over a few times. My fly had been in a small depression which had proved a surprisingly good windbreak. Giving North Kaiweka a miss, I passed over

Kaiweka and then Mad Dog Hill, and dropped below the cloud towards Studholme Saddle. About here I began to encounter the wilding pines (Penis contorta [?]) which have taken over much of the southern Kaiweka tops. The forestry people have been out with chainsaw and slasher and cut down large areas of them, but the pines appear to be winning. I pulled out a couple of hundred, as most passerbys do, but doubt if it made any difference. I continued on over Kaiarahi and lunched in the sun at Castle Camp, a pleasant grassy clearing in a beech forest saddle with a shelter consisting of an iron roof and plastic sheeting for walls, apparently used by Forestry workers. The ridge rose again above the treeline and continued for several more kilometres before dropping to Kiwi Saddle Hut; a nice hut built by a local tramping club.

Day 11: was a rest day at the hut in mist and intermittent rain. I did absolutely nothing except eat.

Day 12: After lunch, at about three o'clock, I set off to walk out along the ridge over Kuripapango Peak to the Napier-Taihape road at the Cameron Camp car park. After climbing the open ridge, the track continued along it through mountain beech, wilding pine (both contorta and radiata), then down

through very tall tea-tree (manuka) forest. Views were not extensive, as the cloud was down most of the day. After reaching the road it was a short walk to Kuripapango, a metropolis of about two houses, and across a bridge to a picnic area by the Ngaruroro, where I set up my fly, had a swim, and washed my clothes. There was heavy rain overnight and a stream flowed under the fly and through my stuff.

WHAT I DID AFTERWARDS

Sunday 17th January: I set off along the road, up the long hill called Gentle Annie in rain for an hour or so, and was picked up just as I reached the top by the first car of the day, driven by a Coast-to-Coast competitor heading across to get in some kayak training further down the Rangitikei. He dropped me at Taihape, where I ate a giant mixed grill, two litres of milk, two litres of boysenberry ice- cream, and a few other things. While walking in the local scenic reserve (a little patch of bush behind the showground by a deep gorge, extremely scenic), it started raining heavily, so I retired to the Gretna Hotel, where I consumed three pints of DB Draft with a couple of Maori women. When the owner, not being overburdened with custom, decided to close the bar, he let me watch TV in the lounge for several hours till my train left, rather than waiting in the rubble of the recently demolished railway station (thanks Norm). A short midnight train ride brought me to Ohakune, where I slept in the lady's toilets at the station; it was still raining heavily.

Monday: I had the day off in Ohakune due to inclement weather. Ohakune's best-known feature is its giant carrot, "erected to recognise the market gardening industry. Every spring a carrot festival is celebrated. There are several carrot-washing sheds in and around town" (quoted from "Ohakune: Where Adventures Begin"). Actually, it's a very pretty little town on the south-west slopes of Mount Ruapehu, the big volcano in the centre of the North Island. The night (and most of the day too) was spent at the Rimu Park Lodge, which is highly recommended.

Tuesday: Unexpectedly, it dawned fine. I packed up the two dozen oranges, two litres of coke, and all the other lightweight food I had bought because I believed the weather forecast ("continued rain till Saturday"). Then I got a ride up to Turoa skifield with a tourist operator taking a couple of fellow Rimu Lodge residents up to ride bicycles back down. I set off up the hill, accompanied by an entomologist on sabbatical leave from the University of Guelph with his children aged two and four, all equipped with butterfly nets and collecting like mad. I walked up under the lifts for a while as the clouds closed in, then sidled a kilometre or so north to the Mangaturuturu Shelter. Since a sign forbade overnight use of the shelter, I settled down in my sleeping bag outside, watching the sun set behind Taranaki (Mt Egmont) a couple of hundred kilometres away.

Wednesday: Again, it dawned fine. I set off early without my pack to check whether I could get up to the crater by sidling to the left, which I feared might be cut off by the Mangaturuturu Glacier or by steep snow, as I had no axe or crampons with me. However there were no problems; there was lots of new ash from the recent eruptions, and the glacier had shrunk a lot compared with my 1980 map. When I reached the crater rim, the lake was down a long way below the level of my previous pre- eruption visit and was steaming vigorously, giving rise to a long tornado-like vortex. After contemplating it for a couple of hours, I set off along the crater rim towards Ruapehu peak, the highest point in the North Island, on the south side of the crater. I was stopped by the last gendarme before the peak, which I didn't feel inclined to waste time on as cloud had closed in. So I descended straight down over the usual loose volcanic crap, then sidled right towards the shelter. I overshot it (too high), continued for an hour or so to be sure, then sidled back, overshot it again (too low), but caught sight of it in a break in the cloud over my shoulder. After eating, I set off back for the crater rim, taking considerably longer than I had in the morning as I was off route. I crossed the snow to the Dome Shelter north of the crater, then a short way down the Restful Ridge track (the standard tourist route to the crater) to bivvy at the western outlet of the Summit Plateau.

Thursday: Despite clouds and wind overnight, it dawned fine and still. I crossed the Summit Plateau, a big flat snowfield, and ate breakfast at the foot of Te Heuheu Ridge. Then I wandered up the ridge to the summit of Te Heuheu peak, the highest point on the north-east side of the crater. I found that I couldn't get down the northern side of the peak on to Waihohonu ridge, so backed off a little and sidled across some horrible loose ash to regain the ridge which I followed down for the rest of the day. About three o'clock I found water where a stream ran across rocks that protruded from the ubiquitous volcanic ash, where I rested for a few hours till it got cooler. I finally camped in a dry creek bed a few kilometres further on.

Friday: It rained overnight and continued on and off next morning. I set off about 6.30 and continued north, the ground now being vegetated for the first time since leaving Turoa. After an hour and a small scrub-bash through tea-tree (kanuka), I reached the

Waihohonu Track, which is part of the Northern Circuit, one of the Great Walks. The walking was very boring for the next few hours, except for a brief excursion to Lower Tama Lake, an old explosion crater. Eventually, I started meeting the first people I'd seen since leaving Turoa, and about 10.30 reached the large ski resort of Whakapapa.

("Wha" is pronounced "fu" in Maori.) At the Tongariro National Park headquarters, I found that there was no night train to Auckland on Saturday night (and no bus on Saturday either), so I decided that I probably didn't have time to complete my intended walk along the Round the Mountain track back to Turoa. I'd done this part back in 1981 anyway, and after the previous three hours I reckoned I'd had about as much track-bashing as I could take for one day. So I hitched to the township of National Park, booked a seat on tomorrow's day train, then caught the bus back to Ohakune and the Rimu Park Lodge.

Saturday: The train to Wellington arrived after 8 p.m., an hour or so late, and there followed two or three hours walking the streets looking a place with an empty bed. I got my only blister of the trip.

Sunday 24th January: I spent the morning at Te Papa (the new national museum); and very impressive it was. Then I flew home.


The day-and-a-half day-trip

by Anthony Dunk

5th Mar 1999

The trip started with a 45 minute wait at the railway station while we decided that a member of the party wasn't coming. Then, we drove straight up to the Colo River service station and met up with David and his passengers.

We started the walk at about 11:30am, near the end of Grassy Hill fire trail. We had a short stroll along the fire trail and then headed downhill into some thick and nasty scrub. Wait-a-while (or lawyer) vines cut into our legs as we approached the nameless creek. Just as people were beginning to wonder if there was going to be any skin on their legs by the end of the day, we reached a wider section of the creek which was rocky and scrub free.

The walking became more pleasant, and then gradually turned into a boulder scramble. The boulders became bigger and the party slowed down as those new to this kind of walking/climbing got the hang of it.

At about 3:30pm we reached the Colo. We crossed over the clean water to a wide sandy bank - our lunch spot. Surprisingly enough, we weren't alone. Another group (members of the Ramblers) was just getting their lilo's ready for a trip down the Colo - paddles and all!

After a swim and some lunch, the topo map came out. Wally suggested an alternative route back to the cars, via Canoe Creek. After some discussion, and someone saying that it was going to be a full moon that night, we headed off downstream. (Later we were to find that the info about the moon was only partially correct - it was full, but didn't rise until 10:30pm!).

The first kilometre down the river was really easy - just walking along dry sand. After that, the boulders came thick and fast and our progress slowed. It wasn't too hard, just slow. There were still some patches where sandy banks could be followed.

Just as the sky was starting to grow dark we reached Canoe Creek (7:30pm). It was tent city! Groups were camped on either side of the river and warm campfires beckoned. Our weary bones were compelling us to just lay down by the fires and stay the night. But it was only supposed to be a day trip, and the people back at home would probably worry if we didn't turn up tonight. So, we sat for 10 minutes and got some food and water into us. At least there was plenty of water!

Wally found someone that he knew camped by the river, and after a chat came away with the guy's torch. Now we had three torches between 9 people. We just had to get back to the fire trail before all the batteries went dead.

The ascent started just as the last light was fading. Not surprisingly, we made a few wrong turns as we missed the track or followed false tracks. Our torches stayed off as long as possible so we didn't lose our night vision. This had the added bonus that we spotted glow worms in cracks and ledges in the rocks beside the track. But pretty soon the thick tree cover and absence of the moon forced us to turn our torches on.

After a while we reached the point where the track goes from horizontal to vertical. A large turpentine tree and a pile of rocks (which none of the SUBW oldies have destroyed lately) marked the start of the ascent.

We scrambled up the rocks where the track went, pausing every few metres so that we could shine the torches for the people behind who couldn't see where they were going. At least going slow like this meant we didn't walk too fast and really stuff ourselves up the big hill.

After many breaks and the sharing out of the last M&M's and sultanas, we eventually reached a point where the track levelled out and the walking became easier. Finally, we broke through onto the fire trail ! Now there was just a tedious 2-3 km walk back to the cars. The batteries in one torch was just about dead but that didn't really matter now.

At about 10pm we reached the cars. We were totally stuffed! I was thinking about something to eat and some softdrink, but I suspected that all the service stations between here and Windsor would be shut. We tried using someone's mobile phone to ring messages home, but there was no signal - so much for using mobiles as a safety device when bushwalking!!

As we approached Colo Heights I couldn't believe it. The lights on the service station were blazing brightly and it was almost 11pm! Apparently we had been lucky because usually they shut much earlier.

After a junk food dinner consisting of bottles of coke, toasted sandwiches, chocolate, and chips we were on our way again.

It was a good walk, if a little rushed. The six new club members that came along showed that they were made of pretty sturdy stuff. They can be confident in the knowledge that they've had most things thrown at them on their very first club trip, and if they can handle that they can handle almost anything! There was scrub, vines, boulders, slippery rocks, boggy sand, mud, leeches, snakes, river crossings, steep tracks, darkness, exhaustion... In short, just about everything a seasoned bushwalker needs to be able to cope with!!

After reading this, the average person may wonder at the sanity of bushwalkers. What possible enjoyment can be derived from venturing out into the wilds, grazing knees, tiring muscles almost to their failing point, and getting back home in the early hours of the morning ? Well, that's a hard one to answer - but you don't see glow worms, moss covered boulders, and beautiful wild rivers sitting around at home!

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