An early Saturday morning meet up (7am) and we headed off up the coast turning onto SH57 at the south of Shannon. A gravel road for the last 40 minutes or so to upper Mangahao Dam, the back seaters started to feel woozy and we were relieved to park up and get going on a glorious first weekend of summer (yes sunscreen went on).
We set off around 10am; the track was a bit of up and down and a lot of fancy footwork to find a footing amongst the tree roots, rocks and mud (more of which was to come) plus a few river crossings thrown in there at the end. We stopped for lunch by the river with a premature dessert (it was determined the pie wouldn’t last until dinner) and also happy birthday to Bram!
We wandered along, some of us faster than others (no that doesn’t include me I was grumbling along with a sore knee!) but we all made it in the end. We were all glad to reach the hut close to 5pm with the sun still shinning. We had the hut all to ourselves (we even slept on two mattresses just because we could). It is a lovely big hut with a huge deck facing the river and the smell of wood-smoke (makes a change from the sweaty hiker smell!). Anne and I were keen to brave the river to commemorate summer (and wash the mud off…) A few others got close to attempting but to be fair it was on the freezing side!
A nice meal of rice noodles and tofu, cups of tea and banter into the evening. Much delight over reading the log book (and finding out a swingers party had come out here at some stage hmmm no comment) but with an early start for the next morning most of us tottled off to bed pretty promptly. Bram and Marieke enjoyed the open air with a deck sleepover.
A 6am wakeup to cloud and light drizzle, made better with hot drinks and we set off along the track to return to the van. Marieke promptly told us we were all too slow and we might not make the 2pm van time, so the pace was upped and we flew through the mud (some sunk into this more than others) and made it to our lunchspot from the day previously by 10am, feeling better that we were more on track for time. We pushed on to reach the van around 1pm with a small tumble from Diane about 10mintues to the end of the track (reported no breaks but some very bruised ribs!) luckily the other group arrived about 5 minutes after us so a quick change into warm clothes and we lunched in the van on the return journey (of which I can’t comment much on seeing as I snoozed away in the back seat). But thankyou to both drivers for tackling the gravel road, and thank you to Bram and Marieke for being great leaders, and the rest of the crew for morale and banter. Hope to see everyone soon (and maybe I’ll convince you to get in the river next time).