With only one punter signed up (Alyn) for the official WTMC trip to Snowy Hut, the trip became an unofficial WTMC fit trip with a party of two, later to become three punters on a 24 hour jaunt into the hills. I was the only person in the party not to have visited the hut , the others visiting the hut as a day trip along the Waiotauru River (following the footsteps of 12 VUWTC trampers heading south past the hut to Point 666 and Renata Ridge). We were all keen to red line by staying in the “not officially open” new Kime Hut and then descend west along the permolat marked ridge to Point 594 and drop into the Eastern Waiotaura at Snowy Hut.
Leaving Welly on Friday at 3.30pm, with an early dinner on the way, it enabled us to reach Field Hut as the sun sank into the sea. A warm night with no wind below the bush line where two hunters informed us a party of 20 kids were staying at Kime for the night. A debate followed as none of us wanted to be surrounded by children, but given that we would be arriving at the hut around 10pm, we hoped they would be in bed, and carried on.
The Great walk standard track was easy to follow under the perfect starry night from Field to Kime. The fairy light trail of shinny topped huge warratars from Bridge Peak to the front door of the hut could be counted 10 in a row when looking backwards down the hill.
The glowing candle light from hut windows welcomed our arrival. We used the last three mattresses, the hut was now full with 20 people, the majority older than school children. For a hut not to be open it was odd for it to be full. I can imagine it is going to get very crowded here in the future as there is little space to roll out extra bedrolls. The natural light is good in the hut, but the draught under the front door does need sorting, as do the large vents under the beds. Yes to fresh air in huts, but no to draughts. We used a bench on its side to stop the door draught.
20 in the hut and no snorers, amazingly, we all slept well. The wind roared all night outside with a forecasted minus four degree wind chill, yet we were warm in the hut. We left at 8.07am on Saturday morning as the wind was abating and cloud swirled around the tops. After dropping off the main ridge on the western side, (just south of Kime Hut) we removed layers of clothing and enjoyed the pleasant open descent to the bush line and the permolat trail to Point 594. We accidentally dropped into the river a spur earlier, so had an extra 500m in the river. It was now hot, sunny, no wind and a great day to river walk to cool down. The hut came into view ( 3 3/4 hours after leaving Kime Hut) and we had time for a brew on the riverbank. But my leaking gas bottle only heated the water half way to boiling, we were all disappointed.
The boys had been through the gorge twice earlier this year, but the gravel river bottom had changed its location and we all waded up to our midriffs, even though the river was low. I had a route guide to get us up on to the old logging trail on the true left (climb up the bank on the true left where the slip is and it exits on the logging trail that brings you out on to the main Waiotauru River), which gave the lads some more red line.
Andrew then kicked up his heels and disappeared into the far yonder, returning to the car park 25 minutes before me, with Alyn not far behind. Obviously Andrew is going to be given more to be carried net time. A wee gem of a 24 hour trip, in fair weather and low river flow.