So what is it that children like most about tramping? A sense of adventure? Staying in a cool hut? Enjoying nature? Nah – it seems it is the one time in their lives that their parents let them eat whatever yummy food they like.
Our trip to Totara Flats was no different.
Our group kept growing and growing, with more friends and friends of friends signing up. By the time we left we had 5 dads and 8 kids. The children ranged in age from 4 to 12.
The tramp to Totara flats is signposted as 4 hours. With young kids, you usually allow 1½ times as long. Those tree roots that adults easily step over seem to require mountain climbing when you have short legs. So we set off from Waiohine road end about 10:30am – plenty of time for lots of breaks.
The two 4 year olds on this trip, Bradley and Gustav, had done short overnight tramps before (like to the Orongarongas). This was their chance to graduate into “real” tramps. They were fantastic, as were the older kids who were fantastic encouragement.
We made it (about 5:30pm). That’s right: a 7 hour tramp. Not bad for kids aye?
Kids just love staying in huts. It is amazing how much reaching a hut is a motivation for them. I guess it’s an oasis in the bush, full of comfort and yummy food. There goes that food again. Word had got out that for dessert tonight we would be having Gary Surprise. We had no idea what that would involve; it was Gary’s little secret. But the anticipation… this was going to be good. And boy – it sure was. I could give you details about what it was made from, but I won’t.
The other group in the hut had ice cream and ice-cold beer. They were PHD students doing some study of the leaves eaten by possums. They had dry ice, helicoptered in for freezing the leaves, and their ice cream. I told you, it is all about the food.
After dinner we all went down to the river for a bonfire and marshmallows (food again). For the dads this was the easiest ever bonfire, with the kids being super efficient wood collectors. I have never seen such a big supply of marshmallows before. A great time was had by all.
Next day we set off for the Holdsworth Road end. This is a similar distance, but this time with a 600m climb. Yep, more tree roots.
One of our group had a weekend house on the road out to Holdsworth, so we were met at the end and taken back for, yes, even more food.