The weather wasn't meant to be good, but intrepid trampers as we are, such dismal predictions don't waylay us. And so we arrived at the car park where Big Yellow would remain for the night. Nine of us set off at 10am-ish, heading down the Tahuanui Track, along pastures and green fields to the junction where the short and long groups bid farewell for a few hours.
The four of us, Monika, Kas John and Mary split off onto the Bell Track - first time Bell Trackers all of us. The day was surprisingly warm and to our delight sunny! The sun dappled path wound through the trees at first quite leisurely before starting to climb gently.
We didn't miss the opportunity of visiting New Zealand's tallest Kahikatea tree. Such a sight to behold. There she was, so majestic in all her beautiful glory, a true matriarch of Pirongia Forest. Back on the track after our 20 minute side trip, we soon started climbing again until we found a lunch spot with a view out to the south. After a delicious meal of tuna croissant, nuts and water we were refreshed and we were off again. Before long the dry mud track was replaced by the saddle mud pits! How many ways can one get through a challenging 5 metre long 3 metre wide mosh pit? Welll, as many ways as you can think of and all of them involve mud of course. Mud pit after mud pit reduced us to crawling pace at times. Finally we pushed up the last major uphill and reached the Cone. What a view 360 degrees all round. We could see the cloud gathering on the summit to the east and just to the right we could see the hut tantilisingly close with just a wee shallow valley in between us.
Down we went and steadily back uphill until we reached the exceedingly welcomed boardwalked track for the final push to Pahautea Hut. 18 kms and 9 hours later we had arrived!