So with the Wellington drought in full force, I figured that not too much weather watching would be needed; this just being a day walk up on the Kapiti coast. However with maps packed and the final trip intention sheet sent out, it seemed that Sunday 17th March it was possibly going to rain. My colleagues in the office noted that for the greater good, it would be fine to be rained on, if the region wide drought was ended!
After rounding up everyone, including the Newlands pick up, we were at the road end a shade after 9am. Not bad for the trip leader who is not a morning person. Discussion was held over which way round the loop should be attempted. Initially a clockwise “gentle” up and steep down was on the cards but suggestions to go anti clockwise with a gentle down were met positively, so heading the other way was attempted instead.
After a flurry of boot changing and a final once over of the map at the road end, we were off. With the fields looking particularly dry, we wondered how low the river might be. 10 minutes later we found out that it was actually flowing, not with a vengeance, but deep enough to almost breach the top of my gaiters. Four crossings later, we came to the 3 way sign where the loop diverges. However we took the 4th option to continue up river! With an absence of orange markers noticed after a good 2 minutes (and an extra crossing) we back tracked to the 3 way sign. Upon closer inspection, it was noted that our intended anti clockwise route was straight up the bank, not with any flat sections. With that error corrected, we headed up. By up, it was 940 meters of up in a solid 2hrs 40 with no flat bits to write home about. A few stops for snacks and breath later, lunch was served on the edge of the bush line. A quick GPS check over sandwiches tallied with the map and ground features, confirming we were where we thought we were. The cloud (for the forecasted rain) was hovering about our heads however the air was cool enough for it not to stay around too long, with us discussing the finer points of the fifth element.
Breaking out of the tree cover, we quickly reached the summit and trig point. After a photo stop and a break to take in the view looking over the Southern Crossing on our right and out across to Kapiti Island on our left, minus any cloud impediment (and rain). After 20 or so minutes on the top, we finally reached the main section of tree cover to return back down to road end in our anti clockwise direction. Coming across the hut we made a stop for water, snacks, cell phone coverage and to write in the hut book. It was noted that the Wellington Medical Students got 20 people in the hut a couple of weeks before us for the night; I suspect it was a cosy night for all. At this point the drought was broken, and the rain came down, but only in gentle waves.
Anyway the down continued, with the hut being at 860 meters, we only had 800m to go (in a vertical direction). 70 odd minutes later, we reached the bottom of the main section, with 4 bonus river crossings (well, stream) to get us back to the 3 way junction. Retuning down the river from whence we came brought us to the car still in drizzle. As the doors were unlocked it rained proper rain, like you get in Wellington when the drought is not on.
Thanks for everyone for an excellent day out, especially to Barbara for the wheels to transport us in comfort despite the size of the party.