3-4 July 2021
This was a significant trip for Graeme as it is now 65 years since he joined the Heretaunga Tramping Club and went on his first trip, as a fifteen year old. That was a working bee helping re-pile the original Waikamaka Hut. For the past twenty years he has been celebrating his time being in the club by each 5 year anniversary arranging a club trip to Waikamaka.
The party of eight were away from Havelock North in the van by 6.30, loading ice-axes and crampons and most took ice-axes with them on the tramp. Great to have Andrew and Luke along. Andrew, a past member, had been on a trip or two as a schoolboy in 2009, while Luke, Graeme’s grandson, is a student at Canterbury.
The trip had been delayed 4 months but we had a winter weekend to increase the pleasure! Snow had fallen earlier in the week down to Highway 50, though by the time we were there it had retreated up to the tops but the air temperature was such that in the valley shadows, frost did not melt at all. The weather was perfect all weekend, windless with clear blue skies. The river water temperature was “snappy” and the rocks were slippery as we worked our way up to the saddle for a lunch break. We walked past spectacular icicles in the Waikamaka Stream that were continually growing in the frigid conditions.
On arrival at the hut it was working bee mode as we had taken in a new axe and two saws, two chair bases (we presume someone needed the previous ones for firewood and the existing axe & saw had been broken), rat poison and the wood supply needed replenishing.
The stove took a while to lift the temperature in the hut as we prepared our dinners. Then Paul a farmer from Putara, near Eketahuna, arrived with his Jack Russell, Leo just on dark , both very pleased to find the hut. Next to arrive was Ben, an Alpine Club member, who had come up from Wellington via Sunrise Hut and over 66, the last hour in the dark. Our visitors used the queen mattress on the floor. We were all warm and cosy Saturday night.
We were not in a rush to get out into the cold air in the morning and left the hut at 9.30. Ben was returning to his vehicle via Rangi and Smith Stream Hut, while Paul travelled back with us to his ute. To escape from the frost we had lunch in the sun at Waipawa Forks Hut, another hut with a broken axe. We certainly noticed the cold the moment we dropped into the Waipawa River again. Back in H/Nth at 4pm.
Party: John M, Luke D, Kim M, Gerald B, Anne C, Simon W, Andrew Y, Graeme H.