On Saturday the 2nd May 09 a party of 5 from HVTC set out with the aim of reaching McGregor biv north west of Jumbo Hut in the Tararuas. We set out from the road end at Mt Holdsworth, passed the lodge and went on to the Atiwhakatu track, then over a number of bridges till reaching the site of the now closed Atiwhakatu Hut, with the new hut under construction next to it. Just a few meters on is the left turn up to Jumbo. After a short rest and drink stop we carried on up, and up, and up. Just as the track seemed to level out a bit we would round the next bend and up it went even more steeply !! An hour in we stopped for lunch and to rest the weary limbs ,then back into it. Another hour on and the bush started to clear, then there was the welcome sight of the sign pointing to Jumbo Hut ,a short trek up a easy (well after Raingauge it was!) track, there it was emerging from the mist.After a brief meeting the decision was made to stop at Jumbo rather than try for McGregor, mainly due to the fact there was 5 of us and room for 3 at a pinch at the Biv, and the conditions weren't good for fly camping, as the ice on the steps of Jumbo showed. So in we went and made ourselves known to the 2 hunters inside, got the billy on and warmed ourselves in front of the fire. After a fine dinner prepared by our trip leader and able helpers an early night was had in readiness for the next morning.
Dawn broke on more mist and rain/sleet so over breakfast -packing-hanging about it was decided to try for East Holdsworth track rather than back the way we had come .Once we where all sorted we set out from the hut and off up to Jumbo, easy going but boggy in places. After a short, but somewhat steep, climb the first signs of ice showed. Soon all the tussock fronds were covered in it, as were the bushes, which made for a very scenic walk with a number of photo stops. The lack of wind was a blessing till the ridge between Jumbo and Holdsworth when the breeze picked up and coats-gloves-hats appeared .After a easy and interesting walk in the cloud/ice/snow the pointer for Mt Holdsworth-Powell-East Holdsworth appeared in the mist ,a quick stop for drinks and snacks then off down the East Holdsworth track.
After a short while we left the ice behind and followed the track down through the tussock toward the bushline ,the start of the bush is otherworldly with its Goblin Forrest of twisted stunted trees all draped in long moss and dripping vines, a very photogenic place, then the track continued down a steady semi steep grade into taller trees with the first signs of sunlight cutting through to the moss covered ground. At a sutible flat sunny spot we stopped for lunch, at this point the comments started about the 3 legged folding stool I had brought strapped to my pack, along the lines of "this a real tramping club what will people think if thay see that !!!" I sat on my comfy stool dry and free of sticks and rocks poking me and thought that they were just jealous,next trip thay will all have them !!! ,Then the chief comment maker about my "inappropriate" stool produced little tubes of LATTE powder, what ever happend to the good old tea bags thrown into the billy?! .After lunch it was back on down the track, quite steep in places but easy going (down) and soon the sound of the river could be heard and the track flattened out for a nice relaxing trek to the main track. Another quick drink stop at the junction with the Atiwhakatu track then on to Donnaly flats ,at the swing bridge we where treated to watching another group crossing the bridge ,not interesting in itself but thay had a elderly dog with them so a few miniuts spent watching his progress over the wobbling bridge ! All that was left was the easy walk back to Holdsworth Lodge and the roadend .In all a very enjoyable weekend and a good introduction to the Tararuas for me .