The sun was high and the sky more or less clear as the car pulled up at the deceptively named Pines carpark on Upper Waingawa Rd near Masterton - the carpark being a slightly wider patch of road lined with gum trees.
For the first 2km, a farm track winds it's way across open farmland, quickly reaching the park boundary.
Initially, the track is fairly open as it wends its way around the hill sides, often allowing views down to the river or further in to the ranges.
The going was slow, with much attention needed for foot placement. Short climbs and descents (often in and out of creek beds) are common and steep, and there was much scrambling on hands and knees.
|One of the tamer sections of track.|
Perhaps the most insidious thing was not the narrow, slippery track or steep scrambles, but the annoying hook grass. Incidentally, I had also opted not to wear gaiters on this trip. This was a poor decision.
Eventually, the track drops steeply and spits you out in patch of tussocky grass by a suspension bridge over the Waingawa River. After crossing the bridge, it's a quick jaunt over to Mitre Flats Hut. We reached the hut after 5 hours, a time that turned out to be fairly consistent across most of the other hut occupants I spoke to.
|Mitre Flat from the hut verandah.|
Needless to say, the hut's cooking and dining area was crowded, so we opted to relax, cook and eat on the spacious verandah.
After a bacon-based breakfast that was over all to soon, it was time to pack up and roll out.
About 5 hours later we were back at the carpark. Scratched, mildly bruised, a tad achey but satisfied and happy. And if that's not the sign of a great tramp, I don't know what is.
GPS Data: (inbound)
Overall average speed (including stops): 1.6km/h