This trip was advertised as practicing making yourself comfortable overnight in the bush without a hut, tent or fly and deliberately scheduled with the hope of some rain and arduous conditions in mid-June. A little more challenging than the bushcraft courses we routinely run!
With a Saturday morning departure from Wellington, there was time to stop for coffee in Greytown on route to Waiohine Gorge. From 11:45am to 2:30pm we walked the valley route in to Totara Flats, stopping by the river a few km short of Totara Flats hut in an area that is used for camping. By then, the drizzle had set in nicely. After lunch we had some instruction on rigging tarp shelters using the individual groundsheet and cord (on the club gear list) using knots that provide the right tension and are easy to release. The group then erected their own shelters, with the incentive of staying dry through the night.
Uta did a great job of getting a campfire going in very wet conditions which enabled Kevin to demonstrate his campfire baking skills producing some excellent scones. Dinner was a pasta sauce dish eaten under a large club fly rigged as a canopy to provide some shelter from the ongoing rain. Kevin’s bakery provided camp made cheesecake to finish.
It was an active evening as we rotated around the fire, trying to avoid the changing direction of wind blown smoke without getting too wet. Getting into sleeping bags involved some gymnastics for most.
After continuous rain through the night, checks at first light showed that everyone’s shelter had kept them dry and relatively warm. Fortunately the rain stopped by the morning, so we had a dry walk out after breakfast, getting on the road home around midday.
Most in the group hadn’t slept under a self-rigged shelter before, so the night out under “controlled” conditions provided some experience of what is involved and generated a little more confidence for surviving in the bush.