Location: Magdalen Hut, St James Walkway, Lewis Pass
Date: March 7-8, 2015
Participants: 60+ Freshers
Images by Samuel Chau and Josie Dransfeld
“This trog is largely concerned with Freshers – CUTC’s first big annual tramping trip – and from its pages a reader may discover much of its character and a little of its history”
It is a thing with this author… She can’t seem to create a trog without including at least one or two Lord of the Rings references. However, it seems to be somewhat unavoidable since last year’s outing is rather famously known as “An Unexpected Journey”. Traditions shall be upheld and the author forgiven.
On Saturday morning, the majority of the fellowship gathered at our departure spot at 7.30 AM – as we had told them during the 1st meeting. Apart from our sometimes incomprehensible Trips Officer Enda, who simply stated: “I’m never ever on time”. The German cringes briefly at this blunt statement… You know, they are said to be always punctual and don’t take this lightly ;-P
It’s CUTC club tradition to normally leave 30 minutes late. When everyone was ready and seated on the buses at 8.12 AM, we couldn’t quite believe it, because that potentially meant that we could adhere to another famous club tradition: A pie stop in Culverden 😀
Happily munching pies in the sun, everything looked rather good until we came closer to our destination, the Boyle Village. Quite correctly, the weathermen had predicted some heavy rain for the weekend, especially on Saturday and of course, we could not escape it – We had our former Instruction-Officer-who-is-cursed-by-the-Weather-Gods-and-now-Captain-Glen on board!! Who voted him in for Captain, really?
At Boyle Village, it poured down with rain. It was by no means torrential, but still constant. The call was made that everyone would walk in the same route to Magdalen Hut that day since it would be way too much hassle and possibly dangerous to charge up Mt Faust or Six Mila in these conditions.
Before we headed out, the most essential question was asked:
“Does everyone have a raincoat?”
Agreeing murmurs all around, everyone seemed prepared. Although we did spot some cotton-ish pants here and there and lots of people wearing running shoes and sneakers. Have fun surfing the mud and crossing rivers with these…But then, that’s the point of Freshers… Everyone will learn… 😉
It rained and rained and rained, bits of the trail were really muddy, which is not really a problem in sturdy boots as you can simply walk through…Assuming the puddle is not half a meter deep. After a while the forest cleared and some river crossings followed. Some of them were a bit freaky since all the rain resulted in rapidly rising rivers. Kudos, to everyone for waiting up and helping each other across!
We passed some cattle on the way, apparently in distress, we were told by Ethan. Rumor has it someone had some fun scaring them by chasing some geese across the bog!
Walking in wet shoes and boots is not the most pleasant of experiences, which is why people kept asking after a while how much further to go. The only thing I knew was that it would be roughly half an hour more once we reached the second swing bridge, Luckily, the said bridge came into view faster than expected. One more river crossing and we made it to our destination: Magdalen Hut.
The weather cleared slowly, the sun peaked through the clouds, the keg was ready. As the afternoon and evening drew on, everyone enjoyed some or plenty of the beer and various other beverages and prepared dinner. St. Mathew created a wonderfully spicy curry, I wish I had known it was free to all. It looked and smelled delicious!
Later on, for some reason, plans were debated what to do the next day. Walk out the same route? – “That’s boring!” – “Who is up for a challenge?” – “I’m keen on Six Mila!”. What ideas people get once… Well. Initially, only 3 or 4 people were keen to the extreme Route Six Mila, but it seems that this plan was advertised loudly throughout tent city and all of a sudden there were more than double keen for the ‘challenge’. Another bunch was keen for Faust.
The next morning, the Six Mila group left at 7.15 AM since it would be a very long day. They rushed off without telling anyone how many there were in the group…What about that ‘Lesson Learned’ from Avoca last year??
Until someone came limping back to camp 2 hours later. Injured. Luckily, we had a 4WD at hand.
The Faust group led by Volker left about an hour later. It was made clear the night before, that he would only take 6 people up and over. Some missed out, however, Ethan took a bunch of them to Boyle Flats Hut in the meantime while the rest of us would leave camp at around 10 AM to meet up at the swing bridge.
The walk back was relaxed and easy, we stopped for breaks and lunches and photos, admiring the Boyle Village and river, staring up Six Mile wondering how it went for all the others. It seemed windy and cloudy up there.
Back at the car park, we waited for everyone to return being eaten by sandflies in the meantime.
To cut the story short: 60+ people went on Freshers, 60 returned!
The CUTC wizards this year were strongly determined to prevent last year’s slightly chaotic mission from happening again. The club may have succeeded since most tramps reported to have a had a great time despite all the wetness. Freshers served its purpose after all 🙂