14-16 January 2023. (Tramp And Working Bee.)
After 350mm rain was recorded at the HBRC gauge at North Block Road end between Saturday 7 January and Wednesday 11th, the river levels were up seriously. This caused major devastation to farms in the area. After keeping a constant eye on rain gauges and river levels on the HBRC website from Wednesday on it was evident that the rain had stopped and the levels were fortunately falling gradually. On the actual day of departure on Saturday, at 7am I phoned a farmer acquaintance in North Block Road, who drove to the concrete crossing before the first gate to see if it was passable as big rains sometimes smother it with rocks and gravel. This was much appreciated and in fact it was passable.
I went in in my vehicle ahead of the club van on the Saturday morning to check the Waipawa at the road end; it was doable but would have been hard work and it was a bit milky too. I met the van group at the Sunrise carpark and we proceeded up the Sunrise track to the saddle and down to cross the Waipawa North branch. My vehicle was there to bring back those of us who came out on Monday.
The North branch is narrow and it was with care that we crossed at the best place and on up the main river, now about half the flow as only being the west branch. Due to the Sunrise track diversion it took us over six hours to get to the hut. The rains had changed the river bed and swept vast amounts of gravel and rocks everywhere making it harder than usual, as well as tearing away sides that had made for good travel in the past.
Many general jobs were done Saturday afternoon while the five of us were there. On the Sunday full day, with our remaining three, we achieved the roof scrub down and remaining jobs on the list. It was good to again have water at the tap in the hut porch. The last three of us departed on Monday, and apart from being able to get the majority of the jobs done on Sunday, it gave a rest day from rock bash tramping which was welcome.
Sunday morning we farewelled Simon and Nic as they departed for civilization. Later in the morning a tramper from Hastings who had gone through to Waterfall Hut Saturday passed through on his way out commenting about the plethora of Speargrass or Spaniard that he had to navigate through to and from Rangi Saddle. I had meant to warn him as he passed us on Saturday but he got away ahead too quickly. The weather was not settled and was more cloudy and possibly showery than fine.
Monday we cleaned up a few last jobs and departed slightly before our time set, just before 9am. The day was clear and warm but by the time we were into the upper Waipawa and looking back, dirty clouds were building up again. As Janice, Derek and I were on the roof wire brushing it down, I reflected on something I had said in my Club Captains annual report a couple of years ago, it was that I was concerned at who would be doing hut maintenance in the near future…this time, in 2023, our respective ages on that roof were 77, 78 and 79 ! Time for the next ‘generation’ to step up, but from where?
Party: John M, Derek B, Janice L, Simon W, Nic W