MARLBOROUGH TRAMPING CLUB INC.
SNOW GRASS AND SCREE
PRESIDENT Mary Ph (03) 5728762
SECRETARY: Jane Ph (03) 5787441
CLUB CAPTAIN: Murray Ph (03) 5724812
TREASURER: Helen Ph (03) 5728762
E-mail address [email protected]
AGM It was a very well attended meeting on Tuesday night with a mixture of long term members, newer members and also a few non members. Most committee roles have remained the same but as has Kerry relinquished the position of President Mary Jobberns was elected to replace him. Kerry will remain our Huts Officer and we welcome Gordon Stone onto the committee.
Tramping trophies were presented to: Murray Chapman – Leading most tramps
Jane Minto – Most Wednesday tramps Murray Chapman – Most Sunday tramps
Murray then presented the Club Captains Trophy to Nelson and Bev North in recognition of approximately 65 years of involvement with the Club.
I don’t think their commitment and loyalty to the club can be questioned as they became members around 1955, becoming an integral part of the club. Through the decades they have remained true to the club and whilst not actively tramping any more have remained armchair members, attending most of our social functions, whereas most from their era have dropped by the wayside.
Through the 60s they were heavily involved in the planning and construction of the Gosling hut and you will have noted in the May newsletter that they are heavily involved in helping to re-establish our endangered birds.
Our Speaker, Ken McKenzie gave an entertaining insight into trekking in Nepal. What a great memory for place names and altitude heights he has but I guess that’s understandable when the altitude plays such and important of the trip. A slight technical glitch meant the slide show was unable to be shown on the larger screen during his talk but it was available afterwards along with some beautiful photo books. It was a great trip down memory lane for several members who had done a similar trip in years gone by.
The display of winning entries from our recent photo competition generated a lot of interest and a fair amount of ooh’s and aah’s. The evening finished off with lots of chatting over supper.
Another plea for our club tent. If you can shed any light on the possible whereabouts of it please contact Murray Chapman.
Newsletter A huge thank you to Tizzy and Marcella at SBA for printing our newsletters for the past 10 years free of charge. This has been a huge contribution from them and we are extremely grateful. If you are still receiving a hard copy but are on email it would be appreciated if you could make the change.
President’s report 2018
I have just finished going through the intention sheets to see who are going to get the trophies for this year. I had a record number of sheets returned this year, over 50 but there are a lot more out there so keep them coming so we can get a true and accurate record.
We have had a good number and variety of tramps this past year with the unsettled weather upsetting a few. But as with most years we can always do with more leaders so if you’ve been out enjoying the tramps but not leading one yet don’t be shy and put your hand up. But in saying that, we have had some new leaders this year and a big thanks to them. But not forgetting the ones that lead one or more tramps on most itineraries. A big thank you to Sue and Jane for putting the itinerary together. Also thank you to all committee members for all the sterling work they’ve done. Also, we have just had our photo competition- a very enjoyable evening. Those people who missed this are missing out on a good evening and great photos and good humour with our judge Liz Davidson.
We had our Hodder huts working bee back in January- this happens roughly every 5 years. Thanks to all who helped out. I will go into more detail about this in my hut report
Marlb Tramping Club Huts report 2018
As I said in my Hut report last year there was some damage to the Hodder huts water tank stands by the Tararua Hut after the earthquake. So in January a team of eight went in for the working bee. We went in with Marlborough Helicopters and walked out. The joists under the tanks were broken so they were replaced and more braces and supports were put in. We also put as many metal straps as possible from pile to bearer under the Tararua hut. The tank outside the Murray Adrian also move a bit so that had to be half drained and moved back into place. A new roof over the porch of the Murray Adrian was also fitted to stop the rain driving in on the door. The inside of the Tararua hut was also painted. I had a poor response from members for this working bee so had to bring in two volunteers from outside the club who jumped at the chance to fly into a back country hut for a few days. We do work on the huts every 5 years so in 2023 it’ll happen again. I’ll be getting a little long in the teeth by then so I’m keen for someone to join me on that one or before to eventually take over the reins.
The Gosling Hut is still looking good after the work we did on it a year back
Message from new President.
When approached about taking over from Kerry my first instinct was NO... but then when I thought about it a bit more I changed my mind. Reason being that you have such a good committee that all get on with the job and each other and all happy to seek re-election. I am actually looking forward to the year ahead as we have some exciting projects in the pipeline quite apart from the great tramping trips
Further investigating digitising all our historical documents. Just how we set this up leads to a lot of questions but fortunately Helmut has a bit more than average knowledge about the nuts and bolts of it all and will come up with a plan that will steer us in the right direction!
NZ Mountain Film Festival We are also discussing the possibility of hosting the Festival here in Blenheim.
We have a lot of new younger people joining us and a lot of this is down to our Face Book page. Love it or Hate it – It certainly works. Kerry mentioned in his hut report that he is getting a bit long in the tooth for the job and that goes for several of us. We will be looking to some newer members to fill committee roles next year. It’s not hard and can be loads of fun.
Going to the Movies Looking for something to do on a winter’s day. Marie Parnwell and I are going to the movies on Tuesday to see Edie. An inspirational movie for the baby-boomers and a good watch on a winter’s day so please join us. Will advise time in weekly update. Cantankerous and bored octogenarian Edie [Sheila Hancock age 85, remember Sheila in The Rag Trade in the sixties] ditches her life and family and decides to climb a mountain in Scotland in this feel good UK movie. Against her daughter’s wishes, she heads to Scotland and employs Jonny [Kevin Guthrie] to help her prepare for the gruelling climb. As the pair talk, bicker and have fun, they reveal more about their lives to each other. All set against the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands
Big Hill Circuit Sunday 27th May 2018
Eight of us set off from Seymour Square at 7am on a cloudy day which soon turned to drizzle as we headed for the Awatere and Medway valleys. Luckily, by the time we parked near the woolshed, the rain had cleared. Going past the farm house we were greeted by the sheep dogs and Ted, the very friendly little Jack Russell terrier. We walked steadily up ‘Jack’s Track,’ the farm road on the green and fertile west side of Big Hill, being passed by the farmers and dogs on two farm quad bikes. When we stopped for smoko at the top of that section of road, we put on almost every layer of clothes we had as the wind on the other side was icy. We walked down the road, past the stream between Big Hill and Little Creagan, the place we usually go up from if climbing to Big Hill summit. We soon warmed up as we went up and down the hills on the more rugged eastern side of the hill. We had lunch in a sheltered spot near a stream and then carried on through an attractive rocky area, before heading northwest up the final climb and crossing paddocks to get back to the vehicles at the end of a lovely walk.
One day later and we’d have been walking in heavy snow conditions.
(Early on in the day Murray had informed those on their first Sunday tramp that all Sunday tramps had to be at least 20 km long. The distance recorded on Geoff’s GPS was 22 km, so qualified nicely. However, having checked carefully, I can find no such statement in the present constitution. I did wonder if an alternative clause, limiting the number of hours trampers might reasonably be expected to walk after dark to, say, three or four, might stand more chance of being ratified.)
The light on the hills during the journey back to Blenheim was truly beautiful and a fitting end to a very enjoyable day out in good company.
Alison Scobie, Peter Buttle, Geoff Butcher, Murray Chapman, Sue Mckenzie, Paulette O’Sullivan, Simon Marangon, Jane Minto (Scribe)
The Snout (via the beach) Wednesday 23rd May 2018
Who would have thought that a tramp was possible, considering the abysmal weather on the previous day, but serious trampers are a seasoned lot and a few raindrops were not going to deter the hardy. As often is the case, the Wednesday morning showed great promise for a pleasant outing. We started along the foreshore, heading towards The Snout, with the intention of returning via the track. Although allowances had been made regarding the tide, we soon became aware that the rise and fall had not been taken into account. This left us scrambling up the rocks on a few occasions because of the wash from the ferries. There were other hot spots that required some mountaineering skills, in order to navigate the slippery rocks. Eyes were sharp on the look-out for dried kina shells, as they are often sought after for ornamentation. Some were still quite smelly and a foolish person (me) intended to bring some home, without thinking of having to travel home with them in the car. These were discarded to the seagulls.
Lunch was at ‘The Snout’ – sunny, calm, windless and relaxing. We were entertained by a symphony of about eight fantails, darting, fleeting, chirping and chasing but never keeping still long enough for the cameras to capture the perfect shot. We took a leisurely return route via the mountain bike track, which was not as slippery as expected. It is almost a given now, that at the end of an afternoon tramp, an ice cream is the treat for the day. After trolling up one side of the street and back down the other, it seemed unlikely that we were going to be rewarded. At the eleventh minute, we located a Fish ’n Chip shop that served real fruit ice cream - well worth the wait.
Thank you to those who shared their day – Sue, Jane, Steph, Gordon, Peter, Geoff, Bill and Paul (who brought a bag of delicious apples – thanks.) Paulette
Departed Horton Park at 08.00 in drizzly rain. Picked up Ling, Chris, Paul and Murray on the way and despite following Gordon out of Renwick, managed to arrive our start point before him!
Our group of 10 set off from Jubilee Flat around 09.00 in decidedly autumnal but dry weather with the promise of sunshine later, and followed Top Valley Stream to The Forks for smoko.
Recent rain had kept the main riverside track lush and mossy with plenty of interesting fungi for keen photographers. Turning off the main track and heading up Old Man track proved slippery in places with resulting muddy bums.
We reached the waterfall about 12.30 for lunch, sunshine and many photo`s. before retracing our steps (accompanied along the way by Fantails and Robins) arriving back at the vehicles about 16.00. in late afternoon sunshine.
Thanks for your company Alison, Jane, Ling, Chris, Murray, Paul, Gordon, Bill and Peter; Geoff.
Mt Philips 10th June
With a vacant spot on the tramping club calendar and members keen to stretch their legs a plan was hatched to accommodate. I had a ring around my area with initially all to no avail as hunting parties were rife through the valley. With options fast running out I had a chat with David Evans and queried “What about Mt Philips?” After a little thought he replied “Yeer that should be OK”.
Sunday morning duly arrived with Bill, Nally, Gary, Paul, Jill and Murray all keen to stretch their legs. As we geared up outside the Stronvar cook house Bill was still rummaging around the back of his truck for a very elusive pack. It was so elusive he decided it was still sitting on his back porch. Now that all seemed very convenient as we mused over whether it was just cunning ploy to have us carry his gear up the 1542 meter Mt Philips.
It all bode well for a stunning day as we set off across the flats, glistening with frost while admiring a magnificent trophy stag. There was no wind to speak of and no sign of the forecast frontal cloud and associated nor wester as we ascended a farm track that would take us high up a spur between Bill Massey Creek and Byron Stream.
Smoko found us on point1154, a grassy knob with Mt Philips only a mere two ks to the west
It looked so tantalizingly close and mid day lunch on the top seemed to be in the bag. What we hadn’t bargained on was a chocking thicket of wilding pines that from a distance looked pretty innocuous but literally had us down to a crawl.
Serious Wilding Pine Infestation
It is absolutely criminal what local and central government have allowed to happen as there have been numerous papers commissioned on this area outlining the remedial action needed but they have just sat on their hands and ignored undertaking they gave that they would deal with any windblown escapees from the conservation plantings. Had this been carried out when the first reports were commissioned we wouldn’t now be faced with this problem.
These trees will sooner rather than later smother all indigenous species wiping out all indigenous biodiversity. They will establish up and probably beyond to two thousand meters in the process removing all our tussock and alpine scrub country from having any recreational value, no hunting, tramping or mountaineering as is already the case with Turkeys Nest Basin, now already an impenetrable jungle of wilding pines.
I’ve already talked to Geoff Evans about the Club clearing a track along the ridge so we can in the future still tramp up Mt Philips.
With the summit in sight we encountered the remnants of the big snow of three weeks ago. It was toooo much of an opportunity to pass up on as Nally and Gaz fired off a flurry of snowballs at each other. I’m not sure whether the rest of us were just showing our age or may be the battle with the wildings had taken their toll for we didn’t share their exuberance.
The effort was worth it as we sumitted and settled down to lunch in breathless conditions with a hazy view out over Cloudy Bay to the east, the whole spine of the Richmond Range to the north, the majesty of Tapy and Alarm rearing high above the Blairich Range to the south east while Shingle Peak and Blue Mountain dominated to the south. While not forgetting to the west, Mt Bounds just protruded above the Turkeys Nest Basin tops while to the side was the imposing north and north east ridges of Scotts Knob.
[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]] After a relaxing lunch the inevitable time came for the descent and the dreaded wildings. Luckily we had spied a ridge to the south east between Bill Massey and Te Arowhenua Creeks that looked pretty free of them although initially pretty exposed. The general consensus was we were more than happy to trade a few nervous moments to avoid our wilding covered spur to the north. As is generally always the case you are concentrating so much on where your hands and feet are going that you forget what’s below and our two newbies Nally and Gary coped brilliantly.
Once on the mid slopes we linked up with a farm track taking us down into Bill Massey Creek and ultimately the Stronvar Homestead and awaiting vehicles where surprise surprise a pack less member of our team was still looking very sprightly!!!!
Trip Stats, approximately 14 ks return for a vertical ascent of 1072 meters, I say approx because I drove home without turning off the GPS hence a pretty impressive distance for the day.
Nardoo Biv or No doo Biv 16/17 June
Well, I‘d spotted Nardoo Biv on the Nelson Tramping Clubs Facebook page and thought to myself now that sounds interesting but where the hell is it? After a little research I discovered it was a sixty’s built two person hut perched on the edge of a basin with a wee tarn in front which overlooked a precipitous drop into a gorge system below. Perfect I thought, the phone will be ringing overtime with all those seeking a little adventure in an unfrequented place.
How wrong could I have been as it looked like another trip on my lonesome but true to form, Bill in the eleventh hour came to my rescue, something he was probably going to rue.
The forecast wasn’t brilliant but when has it been over the last year. Still it all bode well as we motored up the Wairau Valley under a canopy of stars only to be engulfed by a thick ground fog on entering the Speargrass Flats, clinging to us all the way through to our turn at the Mangles. Mind you it’s pretty typical for Murchison and normally just burns off with the rising sun.
Eight thirty had us parking beside the DOC kiosk at Mt Ella Station with sure enough the fog having lifted but what was above did look a little ominous.
Rick and Emma Monk of Mt Ella Station had kindly given us permission to cross there stock bridge over the Matakitaki River and follow the farm race up the western side of the Matakitaki Valley to the confluence with Nardoo Stream. We felt it prudent to bide our time and allow a mob of a couple of hundred cattle the right of way as they ambled double file along the lane at a leisurely pace. The wait was well and truly worth it as neither of us wanted to wade the frigid waters of the Matakitaki at this early stage of the day.
By now the heavens had lightly opened up as we made our way up the farm lane at a brisk pace,, stopping briefly foe a chat with Emma who was out exercising the dogs around the start of the DOC track. Although not super obvious we spotted an orange triangle on a farm post heralding the beginning of the doc track which is initially shared with Mt Ella Station taking us passed the lower Nardoo Gorge. The precipitation had abated a little and it seemed an opportune time for smoko.
Fuelled up we departed the farm track following the remnants of an old four wheel drive track for half a k leading us down into the Nardoo Valley, the only vehicles using it now were quad bikes going on the footprints.
Once on the valley floor we followed remnants of the old DOC walking track along the river margins, crossing whenever we thought the going looked easier on the other bank.DOC no longer maintain this track but its still obvious although a tad overgrown in places. We did stop briefly to note where a track of old leads straight up onto Mt Nardoo which would be followed by a ridge ramble of eight or so ks around to Nardoo Biv. Conditions today on the tops weren’t conducive to a pleasant ridge ramble so we resigned ourselves to a day of wet feet splashing from bank to bank.
Another wee reprieve in the weather had us parked up on a big log in the riverbed for lunch, the fork in the valley now seemingly tantalizingly close. It was just an optical illusion as it played with us through the early afternoon. We were to take the true left fork which leads to Nardoo Biv while the true right takes you up into Nardoo Basin for those that dare venture. With the rain having set in again it took an eternity to reach those forks, was it slippery rocks in the river or slippery roots in the bush or just age catching up!!!
Bill did become a little despondent when I pointed out cheerfully 18 ks down for 300 vertical meters and only four or five ks to go with a mere 700 vertical!!
The track climbs quite steeply from here sidling initially high above the creek , a little indistinct in places as windfall and thickets of regenerating beech hide all before reuniting once again with the creek to follow just above offering glimpses of little chasms and tumbling drops before the final crossing to begin a steep energy sapping grunt. It was a case of pulling oneself up with the aid of scrubby alpine beech as footholds were by now very slick with the ever strengthening rain.
A brief pause was taken on the edge of the bush line as I checked the map to get our bearings and we ascertained that the spur in front needed to be ascended before doing a horseshoe arc to drop down to the bivy.
That last steep bit of spur was a bit of a grovel as you plugged into the snow then weighted only to have the snow slide of the tussock underfoot whilst all the time taking a barrage of stinging sleet across the face.
I decided to scoot off ahead and gets a brew under way, spying the bivy below close to the tarn. Five minutes later I was pushing on the door to enter its wee cosy confines. Off with the sodden gloves, trying to unbuckle straps with fingers that refused to work to hunt out the stove in the belly of the pack. More fumbling as I cranked up the stove, the heat radiating out around my fingers. Grabbing the tin bucket I shot over to the tarn in failing light to find bullet proof ice with no amount of stamping going to breech its defence. Luckily I spied a weakness where the ice met the shore and managed to chip a hole big enough to get my mug into and transfer to the bucket.
The roaring gas stove had quickly raised the temperature of the bivy and as Bill arrived it quickly began to take on a tropical feel as we disrobed wet clothes.
Bill exclaimed that Nardoo Biv should be renamed NO-DOO biv and vowed it was the first and last time he would set foot in it.
Once in dry clothes, fed and curled up in the sleeping bag his humour returned!
Once in dry clothes, fed and curled up in the sleeping bag his humour returned!
Before lights out at seven thirty I perused the hut book to note we were just the third entry for the year, while sleet intermittently rattling across the tin exterior to create the perfect good night lullaby.
Morning arrived and rather depressingly conditions hadn’t improved so a wander to the top was out with the general consensus being too high tail it out. That of course wasn’t going to happen until wet socks were pulled over warm and toasty feet before being planted in cold boots, a sobering thought!! Still after ten minutes we would be given a respite as the wind and sleet would be to our backs for the slippery descent. Normally I would have been happily snapping away but the conditions weren’t conducive to the survival of the camera having already killed one a few months ago in the rain and wasn’t going to tempt fate as it appeared I may have killed the GPS yesterday. Not perhaps unsurprising, electronics appear to have a huge dislike of Water!
By midday we were back down in the valley proper, the rain having abated with it looking decidedly brighter to the east although still very murky behind us. It may have stopped raining but the drenching didn’t stop as every branch touched brought a cascade down.
Even though it was mostly all down, the riverbed became tedious and it was three o’clock before we reached the start of the old vehicle track by passing the lower gorge, a timely spot for afternoon smoko as the back of it was broken and we could almost smell the diesel fumes that would be omitted from the blue chariot on our arrival.
A pretty poor attempt at power walking the lane ensued as we desperately wanted to get to the sanctuary of the chariot before being engulfed by the rain again building to the west of Murchison. We arrived with about thirty seconds to spare pleasantly trashed, well perhaps as far as Bill was concerned unpleasantly trashed!!!.
Trip Stats 46.72 ks return for 1176 vertical meters of ascent.
A letter to my tramping mates
Before leaving Marlborough I committed to producing a PNG story for my tramping companions! So here I am after 2 months finally getting my head around some of the complexity of the community on Daru Island! The island is 2 km off the southern New Guinea coast; SW of the Fly River mouth; and 60 km from Saibai Island (the most northerly of Australia’s Torres Strait islands).My flight from Port Moresby took less than two hours. Daru is both an island and a town because the mangrove island is only 5 km in diameter, and hosts a population of some 17,000 people mostly crammed along a short bit of eastern coastline in one-room stilted houses with built with bush materials! With only one bank facility (an ATM cash machine) the town has four Chinese food stores and a thriving produce market.
I am working in a TB project which is giving technical support to a multi-agency partnership focused on reducing the high incidence of TB on the island. This potentially deadly disease is also within the villages of the mainland both along the coast and far up the many rivers that flow down into the Torres Strait. Almost 10% of the Daru population has been treated for TB over the past 3 years – some have a 6 month course of medications and some require treatment for over 2 years! Many come from these far away villages and have to stay on the island for the completion of their treatment. At present my main focus is children under 5 years old, who are a close contact of a person diagnosed with TB. Children are particularly vulnerable to the germ and so there is a treatment regime especially designed to kill any early TB bacteria (latent TB) present in their bodies (even though the child is still healthy). My work involves me in spending time in the communities on the island; and in supporting open air clinics where the parents come to collect their children’s medication each month.
I am living in a comfortable enough small unit at Crows Nest - one of the two hotels on the island. The particular appeal of Crows Nest, is that it has a powerful generator which kicks in during the frequent power cuts. Most of the houses (which have electricity) are bereft of power and water during these cuts which can continue for 8 hours and at frequent intervals during one week. The unpredictable cuts are apparently due to the fact that the province is short of fuel money and so is trying to reduce fuel consumption in order to save money! Communication links are another erratic challenge. We generally have access to a 2g network and, at the office, a wifi link. However the wifi link is quite unpredictable and of course drops out whenever there is a power cut!! Apart from the sheer frustration of these matters, I do think it is something of a leveller since the majority of Daru residents are completely unaffected by power, water or phone outrages (since they have none of these services)!!
My accommodation is about 3 km from the office and, although we have a vehicle based at the hotel, I tend to walk or cycle to and fro. Although the island is small, and the community confined, the airstrip stands between me and the office. So we, living on the western side of the airport, are obliged to loop around the northern end of the airstrip on an amazingly rough, potholed piece of road to join the main thoroughfare. It is not only a challenge for cycling but most people are walking and are obliged to pick their way carefully around the greasy, muddy pools in the road!
Down near the office is the main market area with the stores selling an eccentric and unpredictable variety of (usually outdated) items. The best part is the actual produce market where sailing dugouts bring fruit and vegetables across from the mainland. Produce varies from day to day (and no doubt season to season) but at present I am enjoying bananas, limes, papaya, sweet potato, coconuts, pumpkin and a rather bland leafy green. Also laid out on small plastic sheets on the ground are hunks of deer meat (a native species about the size of a young goat); and delicious sea food – mud crabs, crayfish, prawns, barramundi, terrapin (also occasional dugong and turtle although I give those a miss) at ridiculously low prices (eg $NZ5 for a large meaty crab).
I hope this has given you something of a picture. I am thoroughly enjoying myself and look forward to exploring a little bit more with Norm when I meet up with him in Port Moresby at the end of the month. Best wishes to everyone. I love reading about the various tramps. I will see you in 2019.