The Gentle Annie is reached after quick, flat 1.2km, at which point it begins to climb gently up toward the rocky lookout and pig flat. After an hour, I reached Rocky Lookout (3km from the carpark) and stopped for a quick snack and photography break.
Immediately after Mountain House, the track begins climbing much more steeply than any of the preceding ascent. It is, at this point, a case of so close yet so far, as the next 2km are the slowest part of the trip. The climb varies in steepness, but pretty much never lets up until Powell Hut is reached. Many sets of stairs, of varying degrees of helpfulness, punctuate the slog. At times I was grateful for the stairs, other times they seemed to make the going harder than it needed to be.
|View over the Waiohine River and Totara Flats|
About 400m from the hut, the track pops up above the bushline, presenting some fantastic views.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, given that it was a Sunday, I was the sole occupant of the hut for the night. It later transpired, as I was reading in the dark, that I was not truly alone: a cadre of mice now seem to be calling the hut home. At least one seemed to have set up shop inside the gubbins of an out-of-order gas cooker. Suggestion for new hut: mouse-proof exterior cladding. Thankfully none of the mice broke in to my food supplies, although I did need to give my cup an extra-thorough cleaning before making my moring beverage.
Deciding to make the most of the clear weather, I packed up my gear and head off up the the top of Mount Holdsworth just after 8am. Remarkably, not only was the minimal cloud, there was barely even a breeze for most of the walk up.
The track initially climbs steeply up from Powell, but eases up after Pt 1330 is reached. With the absence of cloud, incredible views are available for the whole 1.7km to the Holdsworth trig. So omnipresent were the views, that I was stopping to take photos so often that it took about an hour to get to the top.
|A frosty-roofed Powell Hut from the track to Holdsworth|
|Holdsworth trig in the distance|
|Vague direction of Powell Hut view|
After soaking in the view from the top, it was time to return to Powell. All up, it was a 3.3km, almost 2 hr sojourn up to the trig and back, and without doubt the best part of the tramp. As cool as it is to be on the tops in any weather, a clear sunny day up there really is something to behold.
|Day 1 - Carpark-Powell - GPS log in red.|
|Day 2 - Powell-Holdsworth Trig-Powell-Carpark - GPS log in red|