Howletts Hut

DSC_0074 Anna King Howletts (15) The trip began at platform 9, Wellington Station.  Our group of 7 plus another group of 6 going on the EM trip to Daphne Hut filled all spaces in the van.  We all headed off to the eastern Ruahines to Kasmir Road end arrived sometime after 10pm.  We brought tents as the weather forecast predicted a rainy weekend.   As it turned out a bit of rain while we set up camp and some through the night, most of us had a relatively good night’s sleep.  Early bird leaving was planned without a brew as the leaders wanted to be sure to get destination hut before dark! 

Off we set.  It was my first medium trip and I was feeling a little apprehensive as I had an email prior to trip to say that the trip will be a fast medium!  I thought ‘no time to back out’ now – I had done lots of training and felt ready for the challenge.

The first hour or so was uphill, through some misty steep terrain and I felt ok.  By the time we reached the top to turn off to Longview hut it was pretty foggy.  It’s here that you realised how easy it is to get disorientated.  A good look at the map helped to get our bearings and we headed off in the right direction towards the first hut for a cup of tea and biscuits – bliss.   We had a leisurely time, developing our navigation skills guided by Mika before it was time to leave fully nourished and watered.  We donned all wet weather gear and passed the other group on leaving the hut.

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Onwards and upwards and am thankful for the odd stop to catch my breath and a group photo opportunity.  By the time we were ready for lunch, an opening in the clouds gave us glimpses of the wonderful mountainous views.  Very excited, but then we could clearly see where we are heading: steep downhill followed by a long climb up to the other ridge.  Loved it when I reached the top – Chris and Weimins cameras came out and Howletts hut seemed not so far away.  Hans had time to hide (search and rescue training) and softly shouted out to us, whilst we searched for his movement in the hillside grasses ….

The top ridges revealed a distinct weather change from warm air to cold air with huge mist forming on one side of the ridge followed by clear mountain views on the other side. Amazing.

The hut is glorious with its pot belly stove; we are soon warm and ready for dinner.  Ivan entertained us all with history and cannibalism….   Plenty to read on the history of Howletts Hut or just look at the pictures if too tired!

Next day: I forget that packing is not my forte and am a little behind everyone – faffing says Mika!  We make it out and head, I thought, for an easy downhill walk to river and then easy climb back to Kashmir road.

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Well it was a relatively easy climb down to Daphne hut with time to try a pepper leaf.  First river a crossing to Daphne hut, then a quick snack before walking down the river, crossing over many times trying out the SAR technique of buddying up with three – Brilliant!  With an upward climb, after about half an hour Hans and Weimin left our group to speed ahead to let the EM trip group know we were behind schedule.

Lots of faffing: Not me this time!!   We make it up to the ridge bluff where we then headed back down to Kashmir road.  A lovely easy ramble down through the bush and it started to rain.  We get to a lookout spot and viewed the minibus in the distance and I’m delighted to see it.  However, it was a muddy, slippery steep descent down and carefulness was required.  We all met at the bottom of the descent and with two more little river crossings to go.  Finally, at the van we quickly changed into dry clothes, loaded the packs and climbed in.   Time for lunch then slept until Woodville where we stopped off for yummy cheesecake!

I am thrilled to have been a part of this great group and the trip was amazing taking us through all sorts of terrain from mountain views to river crossings and bush walk.  Fabulous.

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