By Chris Russell, 22 July 2023
This trip was originally supposed to be to Cattle Creek hut in the Ruahines, however closer to the date I realised it was gonna snow pretty low, and boy do I love my snow. So I emailed out my new plan to do an overnighter to Longview hut, I thought this was a good substitue since I had some beginners signed up and it's only a 2 hour tramp. But apparently not because everyone withdrew from the trip after that. But I go to the hunter carpark anyway and guess who's there... None other than 'ol reliable Tommy. We looked around at the lack of other people, Tommy said to me "...Are you still keen to go on with the trip?", "Fuck yeah" I said. And so we drove up planning a new route on the way since we didn't have beginners anymore so we could do whatver we want. The new plan was Longview > Howletts > Sawtooth ridge > Daphne and back to the car. The road to the start was one of the roughest mountain access roads I've been on, would not recommend doing it in a 2wd, my car was sliding side to side on the gravel uphill, but it made it! And we set off. First stop Longview hut and I opened to door to find a six pack of heinekens on the table, someone just left them there!? Of course I had to have one. Then we set off to Howletts and soon we ran into snow. But we were also running out of daylight. We deciced we were ok with some night travel because the wind was low and we had a PLB. We got to the highest point, Otumore (1519m) and there we noticed there was just a possum chilling there, in the snow.
It seemed to be dazed so Tommy thought we would do a conservation and eliminate it. And so Tommy fought the possum with a knife and won (as I would hope?). But he did gets scratched which was a little concerning because Tuberculosis exists. But what then became more concerning as Tommy had had this fight without layering up, and it was real cold without the sun on this exposed snowy ridge. It suddenly dawned on us how dumb of an idea this was, so we made the safe decision to return to Longview hut for the night, which turned out to be a good idea because Tommy was experiencing hypothermic symptoms on the way down, slurring his words and stumbling.
After a nights rest we had to re assess the plan. We stepped outside for a second and felt the insanely cold wind chill and decided ridges were now cringe. So the new plan became explore Top Gorge hut and maybe bag Awatere hut too. Now apparently there was a track to Top Gorge according to a sign, but this track must have been very old because it was just all leatherwood and the 'track' was just the only possible penetrable path through said leatherwood. But we managed to push through and get to the gorge. And my oh my was it pretty, there were waterfalls entering from every side, the spray from the waterfalls turning into rainbows too. We followed the stream to Top Gorge and from there we planned to bush bash up to the ridge of Rocky Knob, however there turned out to be a secret track up there anyway. And then we went straight off the ridge to Awatere hut, which was a proper bush bash with no path and many many ferns, which were actually a huge pain because you couldn't see where you were putting your feet and so we both fell many times. Here's our full route:
This trip was cool because it had everything it had tops travel it had snow, it had dense leatherwood, it had stream bashing, bush bashing, it had possum, and it had many changes of plans.