Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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We tramped the Lake Sumner Forest Park Track from Windy Point in the Hope Valley to Hope Kiwi Lodge about 7 and 7.5 hours each way of the return tramping trip.  The total tramp was about 60 Km. 

Monday 9 Jan

8:00 am, all 19 ABTC trampers were picked up from the Old Nurses Home in Reefton to be taken to the entrance of the tracks. Around 8:30am, 12 of them were dropped off at St. James Walkway starting point. Around 9:30am, the remaining group of 7 arrived at the Lake Sumner Forest Park starting point, which has a fitting name: Windy Point because the strong wind was felt almost immediately after we stepped outside of the shuttle.

The first leg from the Windy Point to the Hope Halfway Shelter took us 4 hours hard walking instead of the 3 hours indicated on the signpost at the start of the track. After crossing the swing bridge over the Boyle River almost 5 minutes from the Windy Point Car Park, we walked through a pretty Manuka Grove, which led to the edge of the forest high above the riverbed. This almost 2-hour track led us through Beech forest then later dipped down beside the Hope River. Moving over its undulations with our heavy packs was a piece of hard work. The path became rocky, with some stream crossings. After almost 4 hours hard walking, we began looking for the said Hope Halfway Hut and expecting to have our lunch stop there. Yet, there was still no sign of the legendary Halfway hut! We walked past a grass knoll, and crossed a wider stream – a possible hut location. We almost speculated the halfway hut could have been destroyed. We decided to have our lunch break past a grassy knoll. We pushed on with rain threatening and about 10 minutes later came upon the teeny weeny Hope Kiwi Halfway Shelter!

From there, we followed a stony track and some very swampy land, where the team were required to slow down while negotiating the terrain to find footings. Finally we reached an easier grassy flat stretching about 4-5 km which took us 1.5 hours to reach the distant headland and swing bridge crossing the Hope River.  From there, we tramped again up and down through a high grass field filled with Daisies and pretty white mini orchids.

An encouraging signpost indicated the Hope Kiwi Hut was 45 mins (2 km) away, and it took us exactly that amount of time through grassy open track and patches of bush  to our destination for the day.

Hope Kiwi Hut sits on a grassy land again filled with daisies, it has the view of the surrounding mountains. It has 20 bunk beds with mattress and a fireplace.  We all had beds to sleep in that night sharing the hut with a couple of other trampers. It was a quiet and restful night. But the sandflies were notorious. 

We took 4 hours for the first leg of about 9 km, and 3 hours for the second leg of about 8 km, total 7 hours approx 17 km.
At dinner, we discussed what to do the next day and decided we loved the Hope Kiwi Hut so much and the comfort of having the guarantee of sleep in a bed at the hut, plus some of us felt tired after the 7.5 hours tramping, we unanimously voted for staying at the same hut and enjoying the day walks to explore the area. The plan was to walk to Lake Sumner and have lunch by the lake. 

This first dinner was prepared and cooked by Carl and Qin. It was a Beijing Style Za-Jiang (fried soy-been paste with dried shrimps and free-range eggs) Noodle. This is about the first time the club tramp had the Chinese majority trampers on the track and featured Chinese Cuisine.  The chefs were inclusive of Hua's pisctarian diet, having kept the sauce to my requirement preserving. They added the dried mince to their dish after kindly firstly serving Hua hers.

Tuesday 10 Jan

Having decided to do a day walk so to enjoy the quietness and comfortable beds at the Hope Kiwi Hut. We left the hut at 8:35am heading towards the Charley’s Point to reach Lake Sumner and enjoy the lake.

After we crossed the first creek about 10mins from the hut, we walked across the vast grassy field for about 1.5 hours to get to the strip of shaded trail along the edge of the forest for another hour to get to the Kiwi Saddle, and discovered the signpost to Marian Bay.

We didn't stop but carried on for another half an hour to the Lake Sumner Lookout. By then, it was about 11:05 am.  Charley’s Point looked at least three hours away, so we decided to turn back to get to access the lake at Marian Bay and have our lunch there. We retraced our steps to Kiwi Saddle and at 11:30am, we started descending to Marian Bay. It was such a wise decision to get to the lake earlier.There at the bay by 12:30pm, we had our well-deserved lunch. Then Barbara delivered devotions by the lake. It felt fitting as Jesus also talked to his disciples by the Galilee Sea. By the peaceful Lake Sumner water, Barbara shared the story of the ‘Walking Jesus’. Part 1. When he was 12 years old, Jesus walked with his parents from Nazareth to the temple in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival Luke 2:41-52: Amazing Child. When his parents had left the temple and found their boy missing on their way home. They went back to look for Jesus and found him in the temple talking with the teachers and answering questions. Everyone was amazed by his understanding of the questions and by his answers. When the parents told Jesus how anxious they were when they found him missing, Jesus said he was not lost and that he was at his Father's house where he ought to be. This was the first of the five series prepared on the Bible story of Jesus' Walks.

We walked for an hour up the long slope back to the Kiwi Saddle to the signpost. At 2:00 pm we started descending from the signpost to retract our footsteps to get back to Hope Kiwi Hut.

Arriving back at 4:05 pm, we had walked nearly 7 hours apart from the half hour for lunch. The hut was filled by the evening with the in-flood of Te Araroa Trail Walkers doing their South Island segment. Dinner for everyone else was a choice or either Roast Beef or Thai Chicken Curry (Back country cuisine) to go with Mashed Potatoes. Hua had her steamed rice with a tin of fish. To top that up, Carl made a soup using some of the left-over sauce from Day One. This soup from the sauce featured on every one of our 4 dinners.

Wednesday 11 Jan
Today is a short walk day. We left the hut at 9:05am on route to St. Jacob's Hut for lunch. We walked past the small stream 5 minutes away from the hut, continued across the grassy flat surrounding the hut, 30 minutes later, we were at the signpost on our left. We proceeded to the Hope River Swing-bridge which was not our planned route for that walk. So we turned back down the slope to the signpost again and found the right track, with a left turn ascending into the forest following a four-wheel drive track through the bush and out onto open grassland. The 4WD track disappeared to the creek ahead of us. The group didn't want to wade in the water, so we veered left to walk in the forest. At 11:00 am, we decided to have a morning tea stop before heading back to the hut for lunch. While in the forest, the little Robin came to chat with us. Charles took some great shots of the friendly Robin.  It was a 4-hour walk day. At 1:00 pm, everyone was back at Hope. 

While we were bringing the water to boil on the stove, the rain started outside the hut. We were happy to be back in a quiet hut for lunch.  The devotions was the story of Jesus’ walking on the water. Part 3. When the disciples had boarded the boat to go on the lake, they saw a figure on the water, they thought it was a ghost. But Jesus came close to them, they were surprised seeing him walking on the water. ‘Could you help me walk on the water?’ Asked Peter. Peter stepped onto the water and walked towards Jesus. But he soon began doubtful and began sinking. He cried out to Jesus for help. Jesus picked him up and put him onto the boat, said, why did you have little faith? The wind was strong and the boat was rocking. Jesus got on to the boat with them, and the wind died down. The disciples now said, you are truly God's Son, and you could walk on the water and stop the wind.They were going to the place called Three Miles ...

Where we stayed at the Hope Kiwi Hut, there was a Three Miles Stream and Three Miles Hut. I was amazed at the connection that seemingly coincides with the devotion themed on Walking Jesus. Barbara briefly summarised part 2: Jesus walk in the wilderness, and his amazing strength in temptation. (since we did not have time Mon/Tues)

The day finished with a search for Qin who disappeared into the horizon taking photos without warning anyone else in the hut. Half an hour after Carl not seeing her, the group started a search till when she came back into the sight.
Barbara reminded everyone to tell another member where to go and when to return if one leaves the site for any reason. It was a learning curve for all of the members.  The reminder was heeded immediately. The following day, Charles warned every one of us at the hut when he was going out to take photos near the hut and he got back as soon as he was done. 

Thursday 12 Jan
As the forecast predicted, the day started with a sheer downpour, we had a later breakfast, and spent the morning in the hut relaxing.  With Christine having a sore back resulted from her attempt to jump cross the small stream near the Hope Kiwi Hut the day before, she rested.

We prayed for Christine's recovery. Barbara laid her hand on Christine's back as she prayed. The others joined the prayer where Hua also said a prayer after Barbara, we asked for God's healing energy to heal and to give strength for Christine to be able to walk out of the track with her pack on the next day to Windy Point. 

In the afternoon, we set off for a short walk in the forest on the Three Miles Stream track. Christine walked with us as a test of her strength for the walk on Day Five. She was positive that she could do it with an earlier start to give more time to walk out.  She returned with Barbara half hour into the forest, the other five went further to complete the one-hour planned walk and returned to the hut at 3:00pm.

After our return we had another devotions: To complete the series, Barbara shared Part 4. Jesus’ Walks: The Walk to the Cross. Down the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem: Jesus knowingly went to Jerusalem, riding a donkey to face his arrest and the trial of the cross, as it was God’s purpose for Him. He had to take his most difficult walk along the road called the Via Dolorosa, carrying his cross before he was crucified for us. (Amazing Obedience/Amazing Love/Amazing Grace.)  Part 5. Jesus walking on ‘The Road to Emmaus’. Luke 24:13-17: His friends were confused after He had died and were walking along the Emmaus Road.  Jesus walked with them but they did not know it was him until he broke bread with them at their house, then he disappeared from sight. The book of Acts records he appeared to his friends over 40 days.  (Amazing resurrected life.)

Dinner was Cantonese Beef and Curry Chicken. With Cheese Cake as dessert prepared by Barbara and decorated (with the currants and sultanas from the Breakfast bag) by Hua. Carl's soup was again generously provided on the table. This was about the first time, the club had a whole Chinese tramping team with Barbara as leader (other trampers in the hut quickly identified her as our camp mother, much to our delight!). And catered for Chinese styled food. Lucky 7 trampers!

After dinner, Charles suggested we went and took some logs from the woodshed to the small stream near the hut to be ready to build a bridge for crossing the water when we went out the following morning as our last day of the tramp. Hua volunteered to go with Charles, each took a big log in hands to the stream. At the stream, Charles positioned a long log already in the water across the narrow section of the water and thrown stones to both sides of the log so it was held firmly in place.  After testing and deciding the best position for the other two logs as stepping stones the following morning, Charles and Hua returned to the hut feeling satisfied with the knowledge the team would be able to walk in dry boots for a long leg the next day. And in the evening, somebody went to the stream to double check the crossing plan and took a photo of the bridge half-built earlier. I was later shown the photo and knew to keep my boots on when we started the day the following day. 

It was clear that we had the hut to ourselves.  We planned to split the group to two with Christine in one group that would start earlier than the other to give everyone plenty of time to get to the picking up point---the very Windy Point on time.

Friday 13 Jan

As planned, Hua got up at 6am to cook breakfast after Carl lit the stove. As usual, while breakfast was being cooked, the second stove had the water boiling.  Breakfast was served at 6:30am.  We swiftly packed away majority of the gear. The first group (Christine, Carl and Qin) were ready to get on the track at 7am. Barbara prayed for their safety before they set off.

The second group (Sunny, Charles, Hua and Barbara) packed away the stoves, cleaned the kitchen, and swept the floors in the rooms and made sure everything was left in good order at Hope Hut. At 7:30 am, we circled up and Barbara prayed for our safety on the track before we started our journey back out to the Windy Point Car Park. 

We left the hut at 7:35 am. When we neared the stream close to the hut, we found the early morning rain had raised the water level higher than the wooden bridge built the night before. Charles was taken by a surprise with disappointment. He tried to restore it to no avail even with Barbara and myself searching for stones to hand to him while he stood on the wood in the middle of the stream. Some 20 mins were lost rebuilding the bridge, then we decided to wade through the water to get going. Sunny, in her effort to keep her boots dry, took them off and threw boots and socks across the stream.  In her second throw, the sock landed in the stream and was swiftly carried away by the torrent. After much ado, we kept going retracing our footsteps of Day One firstly crossing the swing-bridge then the grassy flat and swampy land. At around 10:30am, we caught up with the first group at Hope Half-way Shelter.

We all went in the hut and had a good chuckle at the bridge building and river crossing experience by everyone.  We had our morning tea. We were comforted by the fact that we had arrived at the halfway hut ahead of our planned time. Christine told us she had been telling her group about how miraculously she smelt medicine when we prayed for her and she felt the warmth on her back where Barbara laid hand on while praying for her the day before. At 10:45 am, we set off again as a whole group crossing the streams, we soon began our climbing up and down through the forest again. At around,12:15, we found a sunny spot to sit down and have lunch.

We devoted our thoughts on thankfulness for the healing of Christine's back. We were all amazed by her walking steadily with her pack on whereas the day before she was having difficulty standing up straight without feeling pain. We gave thanks to God's healing power.
After that we kept going through the forest. We came across many a fallen trees on the track, which prompted Barbara to plan to contact DOC to report this.We finally reached the end of the track, crossing the Swing-bridge across Boyle River. We arrived at Windy Point at 3:00 pm. Maurice, the East West Coast Coach driver was there to greet us much to our comfort.

The second half of our return journey took us 4 hours. as it did on Day One.The journey back was 7 hours. And everyone was safe and sound back at the Old Nurses Home in Reefton by 5:30 pm.  We all were very thankful for our leader Barbara's guidance, support and tolerance on the tramp.  

I am sure several more of tramps like such would soon train the Chinese trampers to wade through streams with ease. I, for one, definitely felt more relaxed walking through water with my boots on, after the early morning experience of wading through the stream at the beginning of the journey back from Hope Hut.

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