The goal was to get to Top Gorge hut in the Ruahines where none of the group had been before. The forecast was variable, however it was predicted that the main issue was going to be the condition of the snow on the tops as the route involved a long day with a number of hours on the Ngamoko tops.
On the journey to the roadend it was agreed that Brendan’s driving was impeccable and we got to the carpark safe and sound and keen to walk the half hour to Alice Nash Memorial Heritage Lodge. A bunch of hunters were in their bunks in the hut but soon woke up and moved to make space for us and the six from the other two trips; although nearly half the group chose to get some fresh air and slept outside on the deck.
The next morning we walked in convoy with the EMs (Brendan and Bridget) to Iron Gate hut where a cup of tea was brewed for morning tea as preparation for the uphill stint to the tops. As we moved up above the bushline the weather closed in and the snow continued to get deeper. The day was getting away from us.
As the conditions deteriorated we changed our goal to Longview Hut which was closer and going to be less travel on the icy tops. At 3pm we were just short of 1500m and not yet at the turnoff on the main ridge. We deliberated whether to continue or return to Irongate. It was going to be around another three hours, navigation going well, to get to the hut in poor conditons. As it was a medium trip most of the group confessed to not being mentally prepared for such a day as well as the prospect of another big walk out on the Sunday as the route had changed.
It was decided the safest and most sensible option was to go back down to Iron Gate which would only take a couple of hours with the steps already having been plugged, and the thought of the roaring fire that the EM group would have was very appealing!
We got back to the hut without incident but alas there was no fire as there was no dry wood. Efforts were made to spark it up but our energies soon focused on the main priority of preparing and eating dinner. Just as we were going to bed the report from the floor was the fire was successfully alight and looking after itself.
On the Sunday we wandered back to Alice Nash lodge to find the MF’s waiting for us having spent another night there after also turning back off the tops. Two from our group including the leader had gone AWOL in search of blue duck so while waiting some yoga poses were executed on the deck led by the club yoga teacher Megan S. The classes before club on Wednesdays are highly recommended!
Once the duck hunters turned up a pleasant stroll was taken back to the carpark, followed by a pleasant stop for beer and ice cream at the Kimbolton café and the return to Wellington feeling refreshed for the week ahead after a fun excursion in the hills.