By Pia, 11 April 2011
The day the wasps attacked!
Yes, I made it 4 minutes to 1pm, good timing. But I was the only one at Hunter car park… maybe it’s right when they say that kiwis are always a couple of minutes late! Just 2 minutes and I was not alone anymore, 5-10 minutes more and we were all there. We were 7 people and going in a minivan towards the Tararua, with a little detour leaving Craig and Morgan’s car at Mikey’s parents.
Second stop = New World, to get cider and what people needed. Next, and last stop was our destination in the Tararuas at the 3rd dam at the end of a very bumpy and bendy road. We arrived there at 4pm. While we were packing our packs Craig S’s group got back from their Hut Bagging. They all looked very wet – I think everyone in our group hoped for dry weather :o) Who don’t!
The sign said 6-7 hours to Mangahao Flats, the weather was dry with some dark clouds so for a start it looked promising, we were all very happy and the small talk were going. We reached the first suspension bridge where we could see that it was possible to follow the river instead of the track in the forest, thus we got down there and it go time to get wet feet. I think we all knew that it would happen, but for me as a newbie to New Zealand’s nature, I had to count to three and then go…
We didn’t get that far along the river before we couldn’t get any further. Then we headed for the forest to find the track again. There were a very bad smell in this part of the forest and we later saw several dead possums on the forest floor. Gross.
The ground were wet from the previous days and nights rainfall, so the normally helping roots were not always that helping to get op and down, and as it started to rain it didn’t got any easier – practice makes perfect! Even though it was raining we were still in high spirits.
Just after a short break, were I was covering a cut in my hand from falling, we continued our moderate pace. But it didn’t went long before I heard the first girl shout, we were walking with a little distance, so I couldn’t hear what the first persons were saying. Then I heard even more shouts! Wow, there were so many wasps, just there at the track – my head said; “run for it”! I counted to three and ran, but I think the wasps read my mind, they went to attack me, one took my right leg, one my right arm and one took my right rib – AHH they got me… The next I remember was my hands on a rock and gravity doing the last part to get my head to vibrate like in a movie.
Morgan asked if I was ok? And the automatic answer: Yes, I’m fine… (With a changed ending) …for now! I could hear that the other girls was stung maybe worse than me and they just wanted to get far away from the wasps, so they continued but just for a short distance until I couldn’t see anything because of the blood in my eyes (still the bad movie in my head!) and I made them stop. I don’t think anyone knew how badly I was knocked about.
I got all the blood cleaned of and a bandage on the wound. Morgan was hunting the last wasps with Craig’s raincoat – killing them, now we were the majority, HA! But some was lucky, Mikey didn’t get any stings at all – he was the first person, the one that disturbed the wasps’ nest and Craig was smart and climbed around the nest (but he got a sting earlier). Andrea counted her stings Sunday = 31.
I don’t remember that much from the next part of the hike other than I had to concentrate on where to put my feet and the headache.
It eventually got dark, I’m not that good with time when I’m tramping, so it was time for our headlights. We were short on headlights so Morgan stayed just in front of Craig because his light was very bright. I think it was a little challenging when we had to climb down a minor landslide because we had chosen the “dry feet” road (nothing was dry feet at this point, we were soaking wet all of us). I think Mikey and Catrine sheared headlight as well, but I was in the back so I actually didn’t noticed. One thing in the front I did noticed was when Mikey suddenly stoped the hole group because he saw a pig… maybe a dear, but it was gone to fast. And now that we are at the animals, we also saw glowworms, wow… or just normal?
The last challenge before the Mangahao Flats was the “small” stream we had to pass. Because of all the rain the river was pretty high so the guys made a chain and Morgan helped the last way. It was quite cold the hips high water, but not even 5 min after we arrived at the hut… yeah for dry clothes… and dinner, which was rice, vegetable, Danish salami (didn’t taste Danish but it was great) and cheese. Food just seems to taste even better after a long day tramping.
It was really nice to be in the hut and as we ate and talked the time past and it became bedtime and that was when I found out that I had got some nasty bruises on my left side and the headache was still there – not much sleep for me!
People began talking and it seemed lighter, I must have been sleeping after all. We ate our breakfast and got to the part where we had to decide if the wet close from the day before or the dry hut clothes should be this days tramping outfit… It was a bit cold to take on the wet boots but we all knew that our boots would be soaking wet in just a short time when we would cross the river again, because it was the same way back to the car.
My distance to the hut was 2 bridges, wasps, then 2 bridges more, and a river. The river was there in no time, and this time with a much smaller amount of water running through it, only knee height this time, because it hadn’t rained during the night. To avoid the climbing on the “dry feet” track we took the riverside and the “wet feet” path. It was so much faster than all the climbing, but maybe due to the light of day instead of the dark night.
2 bridges were passed and now we were looking out for the wasps. This time we wanted to fool the wasps and go around the nest = no stings Sunday, yeah. We made it, we found the place where I got fixed up with bandage and just afterwards my “lovely” stone, Craig lead the way and we started climbing the forest to avoid another angry wasp attack. We all made it to the other side safe and sound ;o)
Now we just needed to pass 2 bridges and then we would arrive at the car. Before the last bridge we decided to take a walk along the river just like we did Saturday. It was nice to walk along the river, now there were no roots to fall over just a lot of rocks to be aware of. But then the water level got to high, because we got closer to the dam, and we yet again found the track and walked the last part.
The car was still there… we changed to something dry before loading the car. It had been heavy raining for about an hour this Sunday, nothing compared to Saturday but most of us were wet to the skin again. We got all our things sorted, loaded the car and then the return trip home started.
Down the winding bumpy road was as fun and long as the drive up there. But eventually we reached the boring straight roads and people began to fall asleep so there where not so much talking this time. Again we had to stop at Mikey’s parents, to pick up Craig and Morgan car, and here were the first goodbyes when they left us. As the gentleman Mikey is, he drove through town dropping us of at our homes. It was nice to be home again and the first thing I had to do was to se how my head was looking like in the mirror… thanks to the wasps!