Transitions…from CBD to backcountry within a few hours, from a toasty van into the pleasantly cool evening air, from road end car park onto a rooty track, and then into an overly toasty Atiwhakatu hut with windows wide open. Changing from a horizontal mattress to breakfast, to a vertical position while going up a steep track, absorbing views, noises, smells, some raindrops and lots of oxygen. The real work-out finished already before lunch at Jumbo: heavy packs dumped on the floor. The afternoon starts as a promising amble along the ridge, admiring transitions from cold and humid yet transparent air into thick white clouds and back again, obscuring or showing Holdsworth, McGregor and the Kings and changing every minute – fascinating! Further away Kapiti Island lies on its back in the sea, its huge belly soaking up the autumn sun, and in the southwest our imagination transforms a faraway greyish line into a glimpse of the South Island.
Reality kicks in with wind and rain; in silence plans are made to buy a new jacket, or make a hot soup once back in the hut. Cheese and crackers together with some copies of North & South comfortably allows the afternoon to fade away into darkness. Meanwhile Hutt Valley makes their dinner, and three Musqueteers seemingly enjoy their Backcountry tinnies. Not much later Moroccan spices fill the cooking area, and soon our dinner is ready. Einstein already jotted down in shorthand that Energy = Moroccan Cous2, however our easy-ish day and Kate’s absence mean surplus food is available. One Musqueteer is tempted to become a WTMC member just by shoving some spoonfuls of MC2 his way, and he definitely wants to join after Ernest Adams and freshly whipped cream are provided.
In the evening discussions drift from Hone to fossils, linger around theology and spiritualism, touch on ACC, Transmission Gully and Greece, and seem to go on deep into the night. Must have been 10PM….. A rainy night lets Jumbo shake and rattle in the gusty winds, and develops into a lazy Sunday morning. Hut Valley peek outside and opt for a quick exit to the rodent; meanwhile our club new member is lured away by his old mates by a bacon breakfast.
Only after another hour of exchanging thoughts on Falun Gong and the Wellington railway system we say goodbye to these three wise men, and literally go with the water flow as we retrace our climb of the day before. Rain changes to drizzle and then to blue skies, some muscles demonstrate their memory during short bits uphill, and Weimin’s TimTams don’t make it back to the van.
While lingering in the sun our other club-members arrive from their longer trip, and with no further excuses left we head back to Wellington. Great place to anchor the mind during the week before it wanders off too far…!
Quickest learner: ZhingYie; Fastest running photographer: Weimin Ren; Most colourful person: Colin Boutell; Tour guide and scribe: Hans Wiskerke; And dearly missed: Kate Cushing