Inclement weather on the Manson

Leaving Ngaawaparua for Manson

It was yet another end to a six-week stint in Kaweka country, and leaving Ngaawapurua, on a heavily overcast morning I thought the chances of remaining dry for the whole of the trip were so remote I would have wagered my month’s salary, if I could have found a bookie on the Ngaruroro river.  

The steep climb from the hut was well behind me, in fact I was approaching the vast open expanse of grassland of the Manson country. It was about then that the heavens decided to let me have it and it was torrential, rain that had me gasping for breath. In such a deluge I was literally soaked to the skin in the first couple of minutes. So after the hour plus travel, with the rain still not abated I was feeling like the proverbial drowned rat. When I entered the Manson hut for a few minutes breather, I immediately thought it pointless to be hanging about. So I farewelled Mickey Mouse, [those of you that have been to the Manson hut will understand] and was outta there.

The Manson in better weather

The terrain from the Manson down to Kiwi Mouth hut is all clay pan and scrub, fairly open sort of country with the final descent into dense Manuka, but well tracked none-the less.  With the rain still hammering down, I turned a bend in the track and there before me were three red deer. In one fluid movement they bailed off the track into the sopping bush. Bolt down and rubber scope protector off, rifle up to my shoulder, and I could see nothing! Delving into my sodden Swandri, I found some semi dry tissue. I applied it to the lens on the move, dropped the Vietnam pack via the Q.D. buckles and entered the thick Manuka scrub in exactly the same place as the deer.

A couple of paces and there was movement ahead, a deer climbing up on a ledge and disappearing over a lip followed by the second deer. Up with the rifle again, this time there were leaves as well as water covering the lens, there was no let up in the rain, a hasty wipe in time to see the last deer hop on to the ledge. He hesitated, a fraction of a second. Kaboomph and he toppled in my direction. I pushed in further, collecting torrents of further water down my neck for my troubles. I tailed and backsteaked her, then made my way back to the track, it was a wild and woolly day all right.

For now I could hear and make sense of the constant rumbling in the background, the river was up and raging. There were huge boulders being carried along. I secured my Pack firmly in place, and made my way down to the crossing. Sure enough the river was a cauldron, chocolate-brown with creamy foam bank to bank, and roaring like a wounded bull. Huge trees were effortlessly carried along as if matchwood in this maddened monolith. Luckily the Forest Service had a wire bridge a short walk downstream for just this sort of situation.

And so it was across and out over the tops to Kuripapango and a few days off.

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