Mark, Me, Barbara + 7 others
Holdsworth Road End, Tararua Forest Park
Mid-Winter, and I was scheduled to lead an Easy-Medium trip to Sunrise Hut to play in some snow. We were hoping for maybe half a meter, enough to make it a tramp IN snow, but not ploughing through tons of the stuff being miserable.
The weather snowed nicely for us the week before, so I contacted a campground in Dannevirke so we didn’t have to try and make it to the road end in snow in the dark before making our way to Triplex Hut in the snow and dark at midnight or later. They were happy to have us, and offered us a massive discount to boot.
Friday morning I arrived at work to a massive flurry of emails. The not-great weather I had been watching all week had hit the Ruahine’s hard. The leaders of the other trips were not thrilled with the idea of going in, with one having called the local DoC visitor centre that morning and receiving the advice that the CARPARK was under 1m of snow, with more expected over the weekend.
I cancelled our booking at the campground at Dannevirke. They were pleased to hear that news as they had been worried about our plans given the weather they were experiencing. I still met my punters at the railway station on Friday night at the standard time and we made plans to go a bit closer to home – so Powell Hut it was. Sad, as I had been there so.many.times before.
For some reason, we still decided to head over the hill that night rather than heading home and then regrouping early Saturday morning. This meant we had a cold night ahead of us, sleeping in the shelter at the Holdsworth Carpark, as the lodge was booked.
Thankfully the wind was in a good quarter, and we were joined in the shelter by a whole pack of scouts also off on a tramp, so the number of bodies squeezed in to the area with a roof kept us all a little warmer than we would otherwise have been.
Saturday morning dawned slightly overcast but dry, and so we headed off up the slightly muddy track. We came across our first snow patches somewhere above Mountain House. When we got to the last flat section just below the bushline, the snow was blanketing the ground entirely. Looking up the first steep scramble to the lowest point of the ridge, there was a LOT of snow ahead of us, but a good ground trail to follow our way up.
We all stopped to celebrate making it to the snow (and to don extra layers and sunglasses), as the weather started packing in a little. The snow was deep enough in places that our trail in the snow was walking on top of the stunted trees that grow on the ridge.
We made it to the hut with no drama, shook the snow off our boots and settled in to get warm. A scrummy dinner and dessert were had, books were read by candle light and we all settled in for one of the best nights sleep I’ve had at Powell as we had very little wind.
Winning all around!