We settled for just a Sunday day trip this weekend. In the morning Honora checked John O'Malley's Castle Hill Village webcam. It showed a classic snowy Christmas card scene. The sun was glinting on the new snow and it was fine in Christchurch too.
Sixteen assembled at the Christchurch Tramping Club meeting place. That's quite a number for the CTC these days.
However once we were out of town we could see that the fine weather promise wasn't going to deliver. The Torlesse range was hidden under dark billowing clouds. At the Broken River shelter deep slushy snow covered everything and low cloud made for a bleaker scene than we'd seen on the webcam at dawn.
The shelter was occupied by a disgruntled group of overseas rock-climbers huddling around the fire.
But we were here for a tramp and so off we went. Or rather off they went. I was waiting in the public shelter, packed and ready to go, when the others took off. When I noticed they'd gone I took off in pursuit. I caught up with Honora, Craig, Emma and leader Pam. The other eleven were fast disappearing ahead.
Honora and Craig slowed and dropped off the back. I stayed with Emma and Pam for a while as they chased the main bunch. But I started overheating so stopped to remove a thermal layer. I'd put on an extra layer of clothes than I usually do as I'd expected this Easy graded trip would go at a slower pace.
After adjusting my clothing I was in a quandary. I know the CTC's motto is 'Keep Up or Die', so I was fairly reluctant to be left behind. But at the same time I had my Mr Responsibility tut-tutting in my ear that I should be helping leader Pam keep the group together. Against that was my real preference to just drop back and wander along with Honora in our usual style of stopping whenever we wanted to look at anything that interested us.
I just split the difference and ended up plodding up the track by myself.
In due course the whole group reunited on Lyndon Saddle. However those who'd arrived first were keen to get moving as they'd been standing around getting cold while they waited.
It's classic CTC that people don't dress warmer to fit in with the pace of slower ones.
The walk to the Craigieburn huts was much the same, with the party widely split into three or four separate groups. We all bunched up again for lunch, squeezing under stairways and balconies on one of the lodges.
However it was a quick lunch for the latecomers as the front-runners were getting cold again and headed off.
We all walked down the ski-field access road with the snowfall getting heavier. Most of the group walked out to the main road and back around to the Broken River access road. A few walked back to the shelter over Lyndon saddle.
Pam had thought ahead and brought spare gloves as backup for anyone who needed them, and they were. And she worked hard too at tryng to keep the group in contact in the cold conditions.
However leading CTC trips is a bit like herding cats. The club's had a reputation for not looking after each other for at least 40 years. It would be nice to think one day they'll realise how quickly things can turn to serious custard when someone becomes unwell or has an accident.
The day finished up with snacks at the Kowai tearooms at Springfield, and Pam was still smiling. Thanks Pam.