Mama Bear recently went for her first solo hike (at nearly… I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say her age?) to Rangiwahia Hut (more commonly known as Rangi Hut). She wanted to write about her experience so check out her adventure below. Remember, you can contribute to that Kiwi Hiker as well. It’s easy peasy.
Rangi Hut | Mama Bear’s Perspective
One could say it’s never too late to hike – I say it could almost be, especially if you have an arthritic foot and you haven’t been hiking for quite some time. But …I say.. do give it a go because it’s totally it. That feeling of satisfaction and victory over all those lies that tell you won’t make it. you’re past it..blah, blah! Rangiwahia Hut was on my ‘Do it anyway list’.
The Perfect Day for a Hike
The day after our winter solstice began with fog. Once it lifted it was a perfect day for a hike. The start of Rangi hut track is about an hour and 20 minutes from home, and the drive out there is lovely with views of the Ruahine Ranges and the mountains of the Central Plateau, PLUS Mount Taranaki. Mount Taranaki is known for almost always hiding her head and it is not often you see all three mountains in their full glory.
Rangiwahia village is virtually a ghost town. However, there is a thriving arts place there. I get a preconception that people who live at Rangi would have to be the arty, eccentric, slightly reclusive type person. There’s nothing else there to do there.
The car park to Rangi Hut winds past the village, veering on to a gravel road, through a little farmland where the track is scarred by recent heavy rain. There’s a loo at the car park. It’s certainly a loo with a view. I think they should have put the door on the other side of the loo, then you could sit there with the door wide open to look across farmland to the Central Plateau.
A Peaceful Start
The beginning of Rangi Hut track ambles uphill, but not ridiculously hard, It does give you a little sense of false security.-yeah, this is a piece of cake. I am glad I am alone. I am glad I am alone mainly for the peace and being able to hear the birds and the dripping of tiny waterfalls at the sides of the track. There’s a slip down over the track and I have to lift my legs a little higher than they are used to be lifted to clamber over a fallen tree and rocks. I’m not very elegant. Another reason for being glad I am alone. It’s not far from there where ambling part of the track stops abruptly and it zigzags it’s way up and around the top of a massive slip. That slip came down a few years ago and since then DOC have graciously put steps in to help hikers like me. It’s not until you are around it and you look back and you see the huge expanse of bare rock that you realize how the track meandered up and around the top of it.
Skating on thin Ice
Ice is not my friend. It sure LOOKS lovely when it hangs off in droplets, or like crystal pendants from the side of sheltered banks of earth and plants, but when it gets to be your path, that charm fades quickly. I remembered from years ago a waterfall along the track. In my memory, the waterfall was about halfway up to the hut, but in reality its much nearer the top than that. It’s by the waterfall that the path becomes a skating rink. The path is covered with thick ice. I stop and wonder how I am going to approach this part of the track. I’m actually feeling a little scared. There’s a guy coming towards me, an experienced fit looking bearded mountain hiker type guy. He stops and gives me tips for getting through the ice. (Damsel in distress). I hope he’s not looking back. I thought, Damn this! My confidence was shattered when I slipped. I ended up crawling on my hands and knees, bum in the air, through this wee treacherous part, unable to do what he told me. Ice is met by snow. It’s so picturesque. The snow is not too deep and my boots make nice little patterns. At the top of three sets of snow-covered flights of steps I know I’m almost there. Rangi Hut is tucked away in the tussock. It’s a welcome sight, a very beautiful sight. Once again I can see mountains of the Central Plateau. I see where the ranges continue on down to the Hawkes Bay side.
I don’t spend long at Rangi hut, no sense dilly-dallying. I do spend long enough to soak in the view, go to the loo (again), and have a bite of lunch. If I stayed much longer I know my muscles would start to object and stiffen up.
There are other tracks that take you on to different parts of the Ruahines. They are longer. I’m going down the same way as I came. I take much more time going down, because I know I have the time before it will begin getting dark – I want to stop to take a lot of photos and take time to enjoy what I huffed and puffed my way past climbing up. Dark nooks with moss covered trees liking like scenes from Lord of the Rings, the unexpected views from around a next corner, the lowering light peeping through branches and illuminating the track as my shadow is following me.
Towards the end, I got quite hungry. Even the eggs in the possum traps looked quite nourishing. I’m back at the car as the sun is starting to light the skies with hints of pinks and oranges and I wait at the car park a while longer to watch the colours brighten and then fade.
All this is why it is worth it. There is something about being in the midst of nature. I think its something about roots. My ancestors were pioneers cutting their way through bush to where they finally settled…maybe its some kind of connection with that.
Anyone of any age can hike. You just gotta do it. If you are unsure, you can always try an easier hike first and then work your way up to more advanced hikes as you grow more confident.