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Heels 1967

Easter Orongorongo Trip, 1967

Easter Orongorongo Trip, 1967.

We arrived at Baines to be welcomed by those with private transport who looked surprised to learn that we had not found the large billy they had cleverly hidden for us under Dave Plant's car.

Tom for at least the last week had been boosting his trip up by saying that he was sure to have fine weather and that nobody, stressing Nobody ever went to the Orongorongos for Easter. Maybe he meant nobody illustrious, but he was proven quite wrong about much of the weather and all ordinary tramping nobodies. Nobody, illustrious, but he was proven quite wrong about much of the weather and all ordinary tramping nobodies. Nobody, illustrious or otherwise got much sleep that night because the hut was constantly being invaded by hordes of nobodies with big boots, packs, guns and big mouths. A somebody arrived (Mr. President or better known to notice board watchers as John de J!) rather late with a tale of nearly stepping on a body sleeping on the Whakanui track. This body was identified next morning as George Caddie who promptly sat down in front of the fire to dry out his sleeping bag.

Cathie and I not realizing we would be just as wet by 10 o'clock without going to any trouble, decided to take a dip in the pool just below the hut. After recovering from that and breakfasting we all set off with our tent which we had retrieved from one of the late-arrival parties.

We were now minus one member as we took to the stream for the North Saddle. After at least one wrong turn and some moans on my part as I struggled up the last nearly vertical bit we reached the saddle in sleeting rain (slight exaggeration) and a howling wind (no exaggeration). What a sight greeted my weary eyes as I emerged from the leatherwood to peer over the knife edge - a vertical drop of dirty grey oozy mud, then wet slimy stunted bush and rain sweeping over more hills. Somehow I had been lured on this trip by visions of fine weather and lots of salubing which I had then transformed into something Utopian - gentle green slopes rolling down to a shimmering blue sea and a small stream borderd by tall elegant trees. Well ...... we got around the edge of the mud slip mainly on the seats of our shorts and managed to get through the leatherwood and nettles (I'm not sure now which I prefer nettle plants or leatherwood) to a tiny confluence where we stopped for lunch. My memory of lunch is of a number of tramping ostriches, bottoms up, parkas over their heads which are buried in their packs as they butter their bread under cover. Yes, it was still pouring.

Fortified by hot cross buns we went on. The going was easier after awhile though the steam rapidly swelled up with yellow grey water. While trying to get under a fallen tree and make a rude retort at the same time I had my second swim. Moral - don't be cheeky. I must say I prefer clean page break bath water if it cant be hot. We reached the coast and set off for the Mukamaku iti around the gravel road. We stopped just short of our destination when we found an unoccupied lean-to which was waterproof and therefore much superior to a tent fly. The two larger tents were skilfully pitched and everybody got into dry clothes and set about settling in. The rain was now intermittent and prospects appeared much more cheerful. After a large stew and I think some Instant pudding which did not resemble in the slightest the pictures on the packets; we went to bed.

The next day was fine and almost Utopian. Gear was spread out to dry. Some members of the party left to walk home around the coast, others scampered on the beach, played King of the Castle on the rocks and explored. Sunshine is a great restorative of good humour.

George, Tom, John and myself wandered up the Mukamuka iti in the afternoon to the waterfalls. The hills seem to move in on the stream as if they want to strangle it yet it wins, and comes leaping and tumbling out of the gap. Tom under the illusion that I was not coming went for a swim. It my be just as well I move rather slowly! On our return Cathie and I got another stew under way. We came in for a few scornful comments because we washed and even scraped most of the vegetables. There were no complaints about the finished product unless one interpretes smacking of the lips and licking of plates as unfavourable reactions - I don't. (That was a self-administered pat on the back!)

The moon that night was enormous - the sort of moon that dogs in Westerns sit and howl at. By its light a frog hunt was mounted in the nearby bog by two members of the party. No frogs were found! The next morning was fine and very clear We ate up all our food except bread (bacon rashers, chipolates and even tomatoes appeared from their hiding places) packed up and moved back to the Mukamuka Valley. The weather was so good and the situation so entrancing that the member of our party with long holidays vowed to return the next day for a further stay. The Muka Muka Valley in hot sunshine is thirsty work causing many stops where bowls and mugs were produced - some just lapped. On the last stretch we renewed our acquaintance with stinging nettle and emerged from the bush onto a small grassy patch on the South Saddle of Mt. Matthews. Here photographs were taken back to the sea and over to the Orongorongo River - it was a very impressive spot. Lunch was eaten and a subtle torture devised. Thirsty people cannot bear to watch (or listen to) people eating tinned fruit. Some very hard bargains were driven for the use of can openers. We set off down the track to Baines and thence in ones and twos home.

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Trip List

  • Tom Clarkson (Leader) John de Joux
  • George Caddie Wayne Topping
  • Jim Cousins Mike Taylor
  • Clive Bold Dave Plant
  • Graham Duncan Phil Burgess
  • Cathie Eggers Margaret Cromie (Scribe)