(Link here for Part 1)
Next morning we took our time and were last to leave Longview Hut. Gave us time to watch the others walk down the ridge the way we’d come the day before. Can you spot them below?
This day’s walk definitely qualifies as a route – as shown in the map. Because it mostly followed the ridgetop, and was mostly marked by poles, it was not too hard to stay on track, but we really had to watch our step as the way was mostly hidden by the tussock. The previous days’ rain made for some squishy walking across Pohangina Saddle, and made eroded sections slippery. Here’s the view across Pohangina Saddle toward Otumore.
After a short rest at a sheltered spot just past Otumore, we headed on down the ridge. Great views down into the headwaters of the Tukituki River, and west across the plains toward Hastings as well as east across the Ruahines.
Then a steep climb down to another saddle – this one with a huge active landslip on one side. Great spot for a stone-rolling competition. Whose lasts longest before smashing to smithereens?
Across the saddle was a steep climb up to Taumatataua point on Daphne Ridge. Tussock provides good handholds when climbing up a slippery clay bank. The wind was whipping around up top, but a few minutes walk further and we found a nicely sheltered spot to break out lunch. There are some odd ditch type features up there, that look a bit like seismic faults. Good for shelter from the strong northerly.
The rest of the walk along Daphne Ridge was a real treat – all along a steep ridgetop with great views. Some interesting old bleached-out tree stumps and sub-alpine plants. I wonder what the history of this area is. Much of this area has no mature trees, only tussock and short shrubs – although there are carcasses of old trees up top, and some beautiful native bush between here and Kashmir Rd. I guess there was a big forest fire here some decades ago.
All of a sudden – we were literally on top of Howlett’s Hut. This one is not managed by DOC, as the signage made clear, but anyone is welcome to stay. What a gem of a hut – nicely situated with a view and yet sheltered from the wind – and clearly well looked after by the local tramping club.
The hut has lots of windows, all well-placed for views. Even a view of the long-drop toilet – which in itself has a great view from the throne.
Jean was keen to find some firewood, and after a short walk down the track after the hut, and a scramble downhill, we found an old snag that gave up its limbs to us. Back in the hut, we fired up the woodstove, started warming up the yummy chili, and vegged out. We had the place to ourselves, such luxury. Good chance for two friends to catch up with each other again.
Good food heated on a crackling wood fire, good talk, a colourful sunset, and a restful night. Just what was needed.
(Link here for Part 3)