Mt Matthews is the highest peak that we can see across Wellington Harbour and a peak we have been aiming to conquer for a while. The problem is that it is a very long/hard day walk - with a 3 hour walk in/out. So when Barbara and Sam booked Shamrock Hut in the Orongoronga valley for the weekend we eagerly accepted the offer to join them and several friends to climb Mt Matthews.
We walked in on Friday night - after the compulsary stop for "Fush and Chups" on the way to the trailhead. We set off in the light - but it soon turned dark, which made the track finding a little interesting at times, as it wasn't easy to spot the orange triangles that were 100 m apart and parts of the track were somewhat overgrown! Our walk was also slowed by 2 idiots who were trying to walk up the track to another hut in the pitch black. They walked in amongst us using our light to walk. It reminded me of doing the 24 hour mountain bike races when people's lights died and they tried to use you to guide them around the course!
We got to the little hut around 9:30pm and after a cup of tea and some cake we all retreated to our sleeping bags. The next morning the weather was still nice - despite the threatening weather forecast. So Sam, Aaron and Helen set off up Mt Matthews with our day packs. The others spent the day exploring the upper half of the Orongoronga river valley.
Half way up Mt Matthews - Aaron, Sam and Helen
The walk up Mt Matthews is very steep in places. You found yourself holding on to trees and roots to pull yourself up some sections. Eventually we made it to the top after 3 hours. We had walked about 4 km and climbed 750 m. Admittedly we hadn't been racing! Unfortunately the views from the top were intermittent, with the odd gap in the clouds allowing the view down to Lake Ferry and across to Cape Palliser. We had lunch on the top, and Aaron and I participated in our first Geocache - a whole new world of reasons to go places!
The walk back down took almost as long as the climb up and we made it back to Shamrock Hut just before the rain hit - perfect timing. Barbara had organised for each of us to provide a different part of dinner. It turned in to quite an impressive affair with pasta carbonara followed by meringes with cream and berry coulis provided by Grace.
Barbara cooking yummy pasta dinner
Andrew and Dee watching the dinner preparations from the top bunks
It rained and rained all night.... so we had a lazy morning in the hut with Andrew and Dee cooking us banana buckwheat pancakes and making proper italian coffee. Definitely no slumming this weekend. We played a couple of rounds of charades and another game while we waited for the rain to stop. Around 12pm we decided it wasn't really going to stop - but at least it wasn't heavy. So we packed up and set off down the river valley. After all the rain the river crossings were a lot more interesting on the way back than they had been on Friday and Saturday when we had managed to keep our feet dry by jumping between rocks.
Aaron crossing a rather deeper, faster flowing river after all the rain over night and most of the morning.
Danny and Grace (the smurfs) crossing the suspension bridge heading back on Sunday afternoon
We got back to the cars - rather wet and a little chilled. It was a fun weekend. Shame winter is coming and the days are getting shorter.....