Mitre Flats Hut – a first time tramping club experience

As a first timer I thought I’d arrive nice and early so I got to the station around 07:30. Great!: enough time to get a nice big coffee. I wasn’t sure where I was going but used my initiative and headed towards the group standing next to the mini bus with the large packs.

Everyone introduced themselves on the way out of Wellington; Tony, Anita, Pete, Deborah and myself. Tony was obviously a very experienced leader so I knew we were in good hands. We had a nice chat on the way over the Rimutakas. The weather looked very promising on the way with only a small amount of cloud over the hills. I began to regret getting a large coffee.

There were little sniggers of amusement in the van as we had turned off the road some time ago and appeared to be driving rather a long way down a farm track. I was wondering if I was going to be required to walk at any point.  But hey this was an easy medium tramp after all! The medium group reportedly had to walk in from the road.

Mitre 4On the way through the forest we got little glimpses of the mountain range and the bird song was lovely. The weather deteriorated during the morning but we were sheltered under the canopy. I was a bit surprised at how tough the terrain was (although I had been warned the previous Wednesday). Tree roots, fallen trees, fallen trees, waterfalls and steep slopes provided a new obstacle every few metres. It was certainly different from most UK footpaths I’d been on and there were no “flat bits”. Nether-the-less we attacked the route with gusto and arrived much earlier than anticipated. In fact we went at such a pace that it was decided that the tramp would be retrospectively upgraded to a medium (unofficially of course).

We arrived at the hut around 2pm just in time for the rain to start hammering down. I felt luck to have escaped the rain; the medium group, also staying at the lodge, were not so lucky. When the weather abated we went out to look for firewood which provided entertainment for about 45 minutes or so. I enjoyed cooking the evening meal as it reminded me of previous guiding and territorial army camping trips where one had to be very creative with 2 pots. The other group very kindly gave us some oil as I didn’t think I could manage the sautéing of vegetables in water as the recipe stipulated (isn’t that boiling?!). We were ribbed a bit by the others for our generous use of cheese in the meal but we all thought it tasted good. I stupidly forgot a plate and fork; luckily there was a plastic veg box and a spare spoon up for grabs. I was really impressed by the effort made to eat a decent dinner whilst in the middle of nowhere, inspired even.

I was mortified to find 2 huge black spiders hanging in the loo so I was unable to make use of the facilities, I just couldn’t do it. Luckily we were only there one night! The hut began to get rather full as more people poured in from the hills, fortunately there was enough room for everyone with Pete in his tent and Tony al fresco. Sleeping was a bit of a worry for me surrounded by so many people in one room but I slept surprisingly well.  We fell asleep to the gentle murmurings of the medium group speculating as to why we were so exhausted after our wee stroll.

Mitre 5Morning brought a new challenge. “Just get up when you want” said Tony, “we don’t need to be out early”. What I didn’t know was, if you didn’t get out your bag early to get changed, it started getting light and then everyone could see you! When a large beam of sunlight cascaded in I thought, yeah too late now. I’m sure no one was remotely interested but never the less I’m not used to getting dressed in front of 20 strangers so I attempted to keep my dignity intact by squirming around trying to get dressed in my sleeping bag which must have looked rather silly. A lesson learned there.

It was a largely uneventful trip out of the forest, the foliage was lush and fresh from rain and the track a bit slippery; I enjoyed my first tramping face-plant mid morning but after that it was plane sailing to the end. The view of the greenish river far below on the latter portion of the track was very impressive and we all enjoyed the sunshine as we left the trees behind.

Lessons learned:

  1. I will do more trips with the tramping club; the people are lovely
  2. Always get up early
  3. Conquer fear of spiders ASAP.
  4. Remember all your kit
  5. Scroggin makes an inadequate lunch, especially 2 days in a row.

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