Totara Flats via Cone – October 2019

I’m a prospective new member and this was my first trip with the club. I’ve set myself a goal of walking the Dusky Track before I’m 50 (in 18 months), so decided I needed to get some tramping in before then. I’ve done a reasonable amount of tramping in my youth, but was wanting to avoid the
heuristic trap of being a middle-aged male, and assuming I can just as easily do now what I could do 25 years ago. And what better way than joining the club and tagging along on some of the more challenging trips?
The trip from the Waiohine Valley road end to the Mangatarere Valley road end, via Cone Ridge, Totara Flats and Sayers Hut was almost all “red line” for me (a term I learnt from Ange) so was an enticing prospect, especially as the weather forecast was for fine and calm weather.
We (Ange, Sandra, Kate, Ralph (Kate’s dog) and I) left Kate’s farm at 8am and were on the track by 9. Some steady climbing saw us at Cone by lunchtime. Although there was a slight delay at Cone Saddle
while we tried to determine how the old signs were attached 3-4 metres up a tree (we nearly managed to persuade one of the group that there was an aluminium ladder stashed nearby). Kate, Ralph and I were at the top first and enjoyed the views, but by the time Sandra and Ange arrived (5
or 10 minutes later) the mist had descended cutting off most of the vistas. After lunch and a brew up we passed some lovely tarns and moss covered trees before finally reaching Totara Flats at 5pm, about 5 minutes before Paul arrived (who had walked in from Mt Holdsworth). Paul and Ange then
went on a mercy mission to try and locate the pack of an over equipped, solo, first time tramper who had slipped off the track ½ an hour from the hut (back towards Mt Holdsworth), and in regaining the track had left her pack behind (and decided to carry on the hut to get help). Paul and
Ange arrived back after dark, with the 25+kg of gear that they had found 80m down a near vertical bank – they had certainly done their good deed for the day. After a pleasant night in the hut (dinner being dehydrated Wild Version with Leek & Thyme – curtesy of some free meals given to the club by Radix Nutrition) we headed off down the flats before
crossing the river to Sayer’s Hut. The water was cold but mostly only knee deep, or a wee bit more for those not prepared to zig-zag around the deeper patches. Then it was back to more hill work on a
track that had seen plenty of pig rooting, and then we dropped out to the road end at 1pm.
And the main thing I took from the weekend, other than the enjoyment of the company and the scenery, was that at need to upgrade almost all my kit. A sewing job the night begore meant my 40+ year old pack lasted the distance, but my boots raised some eyebrows (at 7:25am on the Saturday
morning I decided my tramping boots weren’t up to it, so had to go with the only other option available – my old steel capped work boots which had also seen better days (although on the plus side there was no problem draining the water out of them after crossing the Waiohine)).
I’m now looking forward to my next trip

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