Weekend Trip - Friday 23 January 2015 to Monday 26 January 2015 (4 days)

Mt Taranaki and Fine Weather!! After numerous trips to the mountain there haven’t been many occasions when I could combine these words but that is what we experienced.

How Fine?

  • · Rain coats didn’t need to be extracted from packs.
  • · Tents popped up in a gully adjacent to Syme Hut.
  • · Vesselina camped both nights in a fly less tent.
  • · A group, including two eight year olds, camped in the summit crater.

The long hot summer has left the park very dry, how dry?

  • · Dry as the water tank at Syme Hut.
  • · Dry as the stream on the Brames Falls track where we planned to fill our water bottles.
  • · Dry as our water bottles by the time we reached Big Blue Monday morning.
  • · Normally boggy areas of the track were firm underfoot.

Clear skies and great views...

  • · of the mountain during the days and starry nights.
  • · from Fantham’s Peak of our route from Dawson Falls to Lake Dive and Waiaua Gorge Huts.
  • · of the deep clefts in the flanks of the mountain that we had dropped into and clambered out of during our trek around the base.
  • · from Syme Hut of the sun sinking into the Tasman in a blaze of colours to be replaced by a crescent moon and a canopy of stars.
  • · on Monday morning from our lofty island across a sea of clouds to the distant islands of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe.
 

Not so fine (thankfully) on Sunday afternoon as we climbed to Syme Hut. After lunch the clouds dropped and a cool southwester sprung up to prevent us overheating as we clawed our way up the final 400m (vertical) of scree from the top of the steps to the hut with packs heavily laden with water. This completed 1700m of ascent throughout the day. As the afternoon progressed the clouds dispersed, the wind abated and normal weather resumed.

Two youngsters joined our party - curious Nils and resourceful Vesselina.

Curious Nils made the mistake of asking about the trees we were walking through. Before the end of the day he had chomped on Horopito leaves and the growing tips of Supplejack vine. Had we known he was carrying a full bottle of mayonnaise we would have collected more tips so that he could make asparagus(ish) sandwiches using the loaf of Burgen bread he was also carrying.

 

Nils, a Swedish medical student studying his electives at Middlemore hospital, returned from checking out Lake Dive during our extended morning tea break and informed us he had seen a cancer. Being a medical student he should know what a cancer looked like - right?

Theory postulated: Nils had seen a Koura (freshwater crayfish).

Reasoning: Cancer = name of the Astrological sign of the zodiac symbolised by the crab. Crab (freshwater) = Koura.

Later that day a Koura was spotted in a stream, Nils was summoned and yes indeed it was his “Cancer”.

Theory confirmed

 

Resourceful Vesselina found her MSR cooker was malfunctioning when attempting to cook a Backcountry meal for lunch. In the hut that evening she dismantled the cooker using the supplied tool kit and instructions, repaired and re-assembled the cooker.

 

The same Vesselina, down to her last 100ml of water, spotted a puddle in one of the dry creek beds on the Brames Falls track. A short search in the vicinity located a larger rock pool that enabled everyone to fill their water bottles and bladders. She put the find down to desperation and this allowed us to gratefully dispense with Plan B - recover and melt snow from a patch 15 minutes walk from Syme Hut.

It was great to catch up with friends who were returning to tramping after enforced layoffs for various reasons and overall everyone had a very enjoyable long weekend in the fine weather on Mt Taranaki.

We were: Margaret Law (leader), Willie Williams, Nils Brunstrom (photos), Vesselina Petkova and Lee McKay (scribe).