Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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When the six members left Bracken Ave and headed to the Whareorino Forest early on Saturday it was with a mixture of goals in mind – some were checking equipment and fitness for summer tramps, others were making sure their training activities (menu planning, equipment ordering, transport costing and gear packing) had been up to scratch. After a short coffee stop at Otorohanga we finally reached the end of Leitch Road at about 10.30am and by then needed to put on our raincoats as passing showers began to dampen the group. Fortunately, the forest cover protected us from the worst of the wind and rain and as different members of our group took the lead good progress was made and pleasant spots were chosen for our break stops.

At our midway stop for lunch Murray reflected on the sounds of the forest – the bird songs we had heard about from our AGM guest speaker, the rustling leaves, the sloshing footsteps and the random sound of rain drops on our hoods – and the opportunities we have to listen for the ‘still, small voice’ of God just as Elijah did from his mountain cave.

Soon after we started tramping again there was a surprise ‘whistle alert’ from the back of the track– a training activity to demonstrate the importance of carrying a whistle to alert others of an incident! On this occasion no body was hurt and everybody responded quickly to find out what was up. As the track opened up into the more open grassland of the Awakino River valley the rain became more consistent. Despite being well prepared with coats, pack covers and pack liners everyone was very pleased to reach the shelter of the hut after a three-and-a-half-hour tramp.
No sooner than we were into the empty hut groups were practising setting up and lighting the MSR and Coleman stoves to boil water for our soup and later to cook our dinner. Before long we were checking our planning work and discussing the maps we had found, the equipment we had ordered and the Safety Management checklist we had submitted. It was good to be the first group to fill in the new “ABTC TRAINING TRACK” Record Sheet. Soon after we had finished our afternoon tea biscuits another group of six people joined us, followed by a very pleasant surprise to greet Alasdair Nicoll and his son who arrived for the night. In actual fact we were very grateful that they were able to get the wood stove fire burning again and we all decided that the next training event should include fire lighting - “Thanks, Alasdair”!

Our after-dinner cards game (ring-it) proved to be both a lot of fun and very competitive and included some hand slapping (to ring the bell first) and plenty of laughter. By then the rain had well and truly set in for the night and we all headed for bed warm and dry (and thinking of the various hunters who had popped into the hut but chosen to sleep in the bush).


We surprised ourselves by having a very efficient breakfast and clean-up and departed the hut by 8.30am in welcome sunshine. The tramp out was all the more pleasant by the hard work Alasdair had done ahead of us cutting and clearing at least five windfall trees that had blocked the track and forced us to clamber over or around them – “Thanks again, Alasdair”!

As we had a brief stop for our energy snack, Murray asked about the shapes he had told us to look out for – the triangle markers were the first response, but there were also wide variety of leaves, different boot-prints, the tangled supplejack and the thorny bush lawyer. In the beginning of the Bible we are reminded that the earth was “formless and without any shape” and yet we have so much variety in creation which we appreciate and find inspiration in. This is made all the more worthwhile as we reflect on the significance of the shape of the cross which represents the ultimate love shown by God the Father, Son and Spirit.

The ‘Fat Pigeon’ in Kihikihi proved to be a popular and worthwhile café for lunch before we headed home with our training sheets filled in and plenty of good photos and memories of a pleasant tramp into a hut that none of us had been to before.

COSTS: food $9.60, hut ticket $5.00, ABTC levy $2.50, transport $58.00, TOTAL $75.10

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