Sunday, 8 July 2018

It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

"And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall"

-Bob Dylan

Rain it did, and hard it most certainly was. From the moment we started walking and all through the night it absolutely poured down. Boy-oh-boy did it pour.
This wasn't entirely unexpected, mind you - there was a severe weather warning for the Tararuas - and yet, there we were, trudging our way up the Mangatainoka valley, on our annual mid-winter pilgrimage to Herepai Hut.

The track was, naturally, quite waterlogged (but then again, when isn't it?), but at this point the water was still excluded from our jackets and packs so our spirits weren't overly dampened by the time we reached the second swingbridge (about 2km from the start).

Part way up the slog toward the Roaring Stag-Herepai junction, the track more-or-less became a creek, and remained in that state most of the way to the hut, interspersed with the odd dryer section. In parts, the mud along the ridge to Herepai was well over ankle deep, and the water off the track-creek infiltrated our boots on multiple occasions. It also became apparent that the rain had managed to get inside my jacket by this point, and we were both entirely soaked.

At the viewpoint just before the hut, which normally affords a nice view over the Ruapae Stream, we were confronted with a swirling wall of white and grey.
After a long 3.5 hours, we reached the hut, and there was much rejoicing. You can never truly appreciate a roof until you've spent hours outside getting soaked to the skin.
Unsurprisingly, we never managed to get the fire going well enough to actually put out any heat (even with the help of some bellows I brought and donated to the hut), so our walking clothes were both cold and wet the next morning. At least we had booze and hot food.

The wind raged through the night, and the rain continued to fall, heavy as ever. Mercifully, the rain had mostly abated by the time we left the hut in the morning, but a heavy shroud of mist still hung over the hills.

The track wasn't a creek any more, though there was still an abundance of mud and surface water.
When we reached the swingbridge, we could see that the river was looking a lot more wild than yesterday. 
The Mangatainoka river, with it's turgid brown water and rapids capped with an off-white foam, made for a noisy companion on the final stretch toward the road.

We were back at the carpark after just under 3 hours, having thoroughly enjoyed the tramp in spite of the shitty weather, but still incredibly glad to be returning to warm and dry of home.
Map with GPS track

GPS altitude profile (inbound)

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