Clear skies over Fanthams Peak (left) and Mt Taranaki (right)
We set off through the goblin forest and then progressed rapidly up many, many steps through several different vegetation zones. The clouds had drifted in, but we eventually broke through as we reached the final scree slope towards Fantham Peak.
Walking up the steps in the alpine grasses
Ascending the frustrating scree above the clouds.
We reached Syme Hut on Fantham Peak for an early lunch. While having lunch other trampers arrived. We dumped our overnight gear and then headed up the south side of Mt Taranaki. The scree wasn't too bad, but it was steep and it just kept getting steeper! We got above 2300 m and it was very steep and the ground below the scree was frozen, so it was like walking on marbles.... after Aaron took a bit of a slide towards a steep gully, we decided to retreat. Frustratingly less than 200 m from the top, but it was pretty dicey to descend and we had quite a few falls and bum slides. Aaron ripped his trousers and we both have a nice collection of scrapes and bruises.
Approaching Syme Hut
Looking back down the south slope of Mt Taranaki to Fanthams Peak and Syme Hut and the surrounding forest and farmland below
We returned to Syme Hut to find a box of ANZAC cookies and easter eggs left by our tramping friends. We devoured several cookies and chocolate eggs with our well deserved cup of tea.
There were a lot more cookies, but we ate quite a few before we took the photo...
The rest of the afternoon was spent reading books and hanging out (eating more cookies). We watched the spectacular sunset and took a lot of photos before a romantic candle-lit dinner! Oh how romantic and we had the hut to ourselves ;)
Sunset (and me) reflecting in the windows for Syme Hut
With no curtains in the hut we woke to another amazing sunrise with Mt Tongariro, Nguarahoe and Ruapehu on the horizon. We headed down a slightly frozen, sketchy scree slope and back down to the steps and bush below with very few clouds we had great views the whole way down.
Mt Tongariro, Nguarahoe and Ruapehu above the clouds
So although Mt Taranaki defeated us again... we had a great weekend. It gives us an excuse to come back and try again another weekend.....