Trip report: Field hut family trip.
Punters: Barry & Ella Cuthbert, Josh & Duncan Tabor, Yingjie Zhang & Alex Huang, Mike & Toby Gilbert, Richard Lyth (without Hamish!)
A small contingent from WTMC family group made the climb up to field hut on Saturday night (18 May). The party consisted of four 10-year olds and a rag tag assortment of five adults. The weather was overcast and dry - as dry as walking through the clouds can be.
The tramp included five families and four children (Richard Lyth having failed to convince Hamish that a trip to field hut was way more fun than a birthday party.) We started out for the hut at around 12:30 after keeping Barry and Ella waiting patiently for half and hour.
The climb up is sharp and steady. One young punter had decided not to each lunch. 45 minutes into the hill he was in tears and beside himself. The adults conferred for on the options and decided that a radical sugarectomy was required. Thus the hike up to the hut was punctuated with chocolate, gummy worms, and jelly beans at 20 minute intervals. The young punter, having consumed a decent amount of slats, fats, proteins, and sugar was much recovered by the time we got to the hut.
Coincidentally, the lower bound of DOC time is set to the pace of a 10 year old. All four (see photo) made the trip within minutes of the four hour mark.
The hut is tidy and rustic. Being built in 1924, the hut wears its age well. It is not as fancy or snug as the modern Turere lodge or the new Kime hut, but it is serviceable and functional.
As the fire making crew went to work two problems became apparent: no dry firewood and no firewood cutting tools. Richard made a noble effort using the remains of a Pulaski that undoubtedly dated back to the making of the hut. Mike Gilbert and Duncan Tabor also made an effort to find firewood with little success. Mike observed that all the big firewood had been picked over or rotted so quickly as to be useless. This meant picking over the piles of dry kindling to find a suitably thick twig to try to sustain a fire more than 10 minutes. Yingjie Zhang did a remarkable job teasing out a fire most of the night.
Dinner was Auntie Rata's famous beef stroganoff. The proportions were just about right and left overs were given to Matt from Otaki who unexpectedly found himself sharing the hut with a family trip from the WTMC.
Pudding proved to be less successful, with Auntie Rata's rich chocolate mousse recipe more difficult than remembered. It may have been a result of the fact that the ratio was judged to be about 1 litre of water to about 1 cup milk powder to about four packets of mousse. More likely it was that the measures of those amount were carried out on an intuitive estimation of volume and weight. This is about 1 litre of water, that looks to be about 1 cup of milk powder, and she'll be right with four packets of mousse. Either way, the result was less of a mousse and more of a thick chocolate soup. The young trampers hardly seemed to noticed and consumed admirable quantities along with an entire can of whipped cream.
The evening's entertainment was a rollicking game of UNO played by Ella, Alex, Toby and Josh and adjudicated by Richard, Mike, and Barry. Josh was clobbered the 10 year olds.
Everyone turned in around 9pm with the blowing out of the hut candles being the highlight of the night for some of the 10-year old crowd.
Then the rain started.
From midnight intermittent showers pelted the hut, making the numerous late night and early morning bathroom runs damp.
The rain would prove to add just enough adversity to make this the-most-epic-bad-weather-tramp-ever-in-our-lifetime-for-the-Wellington Tramping and Mountaineering Club*.
The group mustered out of the sleeping bags around 7am for a hot breakfast of either weet-bix or porridge. Just as we finished breakfast the rain switched from intermittent to steady. The bags were packed snugly, pack liners we checked, and rain covers were deployed. The hut was cleaned, and by 9:30 we found ourselves with a clean hut, packed packs, and a two hour down hill hike. With nothing left to it we donned rain jackets and warmies and started out.
The down hill hike was quite exciting for the young trampers. Ella Cuthbert set the pace and held the boys to their place behind her. There were new islands to be claimed for the crown, new inland oceans had appeared overnight, and solid mud had turned into deep quagmires. The excitement of the hiking down a raging river bed as well the natural descent help to carry the kids down the hill. The rain had stopped by 10:15 and by 11:00 am we we at the bush line. The young trampers arrived at the car park at 11:45 happy and content.
The rag tag assortment of adults arrived slightly later.
* as experienced by four 10-year olds on the field hut hike.