Dear Mt Taranaki,
Such a tease! Forever sitting aloof and proud on the western side of the North Island, often half hidden behind mist and cloud, giving off strong hints of, but seldom revealing, your full splendour. We were hoping we might get lucky this time. Mid-week the forecast looked promising. By Friday night I could hardly bear to look at the isobars of shattered dreams. It’s tough when the wiggly lines don’t wiggle where you want them to!
It takes more than a few wiggly lines and a bad reputation to put us off though. Undeterred and in good spirits we strode up the staircase track to Kapuni Lodge Friday night. The unfamiliar conditions were confusing. We encountered a mild, calm evening lit up by a full moon. Where were the howling gales and torrential rain that normally rebuff all comers? Your elegant profile dominated the night sky. Your snow-capped shoulders looked very fine.
Oh don’t you hate it when you misinterpret the signals! We should have just kept walking on Friday night, all the way to the top! Saturday morning we awoke to clag and rain. No sign of you anywhere Taranaki and therefore no need to hurry. But already some of the party were getting bored and it was not yet 9am. Already Dmitiri and I were getting thrashed at cards. Visions of caged monkeys running riot in the zoo flashed before me. Would we have to tie them up and give them a light tap on the head with the ice hammer to subdue them? Fortunately Tony saved the day by escorting the young and the restless on a round trip to Lake Dive.
Free of the effervescence and the hustle and bustle of hyper active alpinists, secure in the knowledge the circuit takes at least 4-5 hours, the old and tired settled in for some quality napping. We kept the ice hammer close so we could lightly tap each other when we needed to wake up enough to snack. Late afternoon a dishevelled and dripping wet version of the young and the restless returned. They looked to be less energetic than when they had left although it soon became obvious their card playing was as sharp as ever. The weather looked much the same – unsuitable for anything but a walk inside a cloud. Dinner was consumed with some enthusiasm, the highlight being Katy’s gluten free chocolate cake. A true taste sensation, thanks Katy!
Sunday the weather was supposed to clear so, despite still not getting so much as a glimpse of you we headed up just in case. But true to form Taranaki, you proved elusive. At first we had no rain, then drizzle arrived followed by a southerly breeze, pretty tame by your usual standards but cool nonetheless. 500m above Kapuni Lodge, at Syme Hut we were philosophical as we read of the splendid views of you on offer on Friday. Swallowing hard we made the decision that the promise of experiencing your charming company could lure us only so far in the thick cloud and strengthening southerly. Summiting would have to wait for another day.
See ya next time.
Big thanks to Steve for coming along to help drive the van, Tony for co-leading the trip.