SNOW GRASS AND SCREE
PRESIDENT: Kerry Ph (03) 5788836
SECRETARY: Jane Ph (035787441
CAPTAIN: Murray Ph (03) 5724812
Xmas and New Year holidays may be over but we are now enjoying the best days of summer.
Our Xmas functions were both very well attended. BBQ at Murrays was held on a gloriously hot afternoon under the welcome shade of the Elm trees. Paul brought a huge container of fat ripe cherries so I expect that in a few years we may be saying we were in the shade of the cherry trees and people will wonder why they were planted in a semi circle! The river was very low but several keen water babies managed a dip. Pizzas in the Park held a few days later was also a very social occasion with plenty of walkers and bikers meeting at Pollard Park for lunch.
Tramp for Wednesday 7th February Destination to be advised – possibly Rainbow area. Email will be sent out. Geoff Butcher will be leader phone 9293299
Hodder Huts working Bee. Kerry and his team of Bill, Ross M, Martin, Mary L, Bridget and her friends Clare and Jo have the huts all back in tip top order and we will hear more from Kerry when he is not so busy. Good photos on our face book page.
Photo Competition. Start gathering up your favourites. The date, classes and rules will be advised shortly.
Members. We welcome Raffaela Dragani. Raffaela has already been on some fairly rigorous weekend trips and I’m sure we will see her on plenty more of them.
Earlier in January one of our long standing members, Ross Holdaway passed away. Ross joined the club in 1979 and Bernie remembers being on his first tramp which was Mt Dobson. On his retirement Ross tramped mid week and was a very regular leader for many years, he kept up his membership and told us how much he still enjoyed reading his Snow Grass and Scree.
Graham Edwards also passed away in January and although not a current club member was one of the members who joined in 1949 when the club restarted after the war and retained his membership for many years.
Our face book page is still gathering members and we appreciate all the trip photos put on it especially Ling and Murray who are regular contributors.
New Itinerary. Only a month left on this itinerary and February is a short month so we are looking for trips and leaders now. Phone Jane 5787441 or Sue 5777001
Molesworth Survey Even if you haven’t visited Molesworth you can do this on-line survey up until March 31 2018 regarding the future of the Station..
This takes you to the DOC website with an introduction to the consultation. Then at the bottom of the page is the link to the actual survey.
Takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. Be fantastic for everyone to fill this in. At 180,000 ha+ Molesworth is bigger than Rakiura-Stewart Island and some of our National Parks. So it’s a massive chunk of high country.
If you don’t know Molesworth that well, take a look at this page:
Lake Chalice Wednesday 3 January 2018
On what may have been the earliest start to a year’s tramping programme we had a good turnout of eleven people. That included Jill who teaches in a large private school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but who was home visiting her father who lives in Renwick. Unfortunately official leader Roy was unable to join us on that day. We had a pleasant drive out along the North Bank and Patriarch roads. We stopped to go up to the Lookout, in case the weather clagged in later and obscured the view. The wide track down to the lake is an easy 3km. walk. We had a break at the hut, where we met two men with three little girls who had obviously enjoyed spending a night at the hut. We walked clockwise round the lake which had much less water than in July last year, as did the waterfall. The lower water level meant that we could cut across the lake bed to the hut without following the track all the way round. The climb back up to the road from the hut was warm and muggy but luckily not as hot as Blenheim was when we got back.
Geoff Butcher, Graeme McKay, Lauren Turner, Sue McKenzie, Paulette O’Sullivan, Gordon Stone, Paul Shipley, Ling Sun, Jill Young (visitor), Jane Minto (Scribe)
Mt Bounds Jan 13,14
Well this weekend’s trip was on its third reincarnation as firstly it was a Leatham, Severn, Saxton Valley circuit but no one wanted to take a day off work so I thought OK well try Mt Owen but that was looking very soggy so a back up plan was hatched to climb Mt Bounds as it was way further east and should escape the rain. All was looking very promising until the low pressure system slipped a little further south east than expected.
So here we were, thirty mm having fallen during the night and it was still coming down cats and dogs. The forecast clearance was now for late afternoon but it was incredibly warm and so with nothing better to do we piled into the blue chariot and turned right for Stronvar Station at the head of the Waihopai Valley. Normally I would have driven on arriving at the Stronvar homestead up the true right side of the Waihopai and waded across the Waihopai just above the confluence with Gosling Stream. But today the Waihopai was fair pumping and as none of us had a death wish we opted to park up at Stronvar homestead and walk an extra three or four ks up through the farm flats on the true left to avoid a crossing.
My worst fears were realised when on cresting the spur to look down into the Gosling Valley the normally placid stream was a raging river of brown and upon descending to its banks all that could be heard were boulders banging their way along the bottom. One look at the foaming waters was all I needed to banish any thoughts off crossing from my head but the team were chaffing at the bit so a plan of attack was hatched which essentially was matagouri bash then bush bash to navigate around obstacles to avoid entering the river. I knew that at the head of the braided river section just before entering the gorge proper there were three tributaries that on passing would reduce the volume in the Gosling.
All was going swimmingly until one of our many inland jaunts to avoid small bluffs had Jessica crying out “What are all these little angry stingy things” They were certainly out for blood and for me the quickest escape was to drop to my hands and knees and crawl flat out to prevent the pack snagging on branches. We eventually escaped over a steep embankment via a small gut into the riverbed below with still some persistent little niggly buggers pursuing us.
After a regroup to lick our wounds, well amazingly I came out unscathed but the others weren’t quite so fortunate with Alyssa suffering the most stings with Jessica not being far behind. There was now a bit of a reluctance to go bush as because it was raining they were not flying in and out of their nests making it virtually impossible to spot them until ones foot gate crashed there party and then it was too late.
On entering the lower reaches of the gorge we got the three tributaries out of the way which thankfully did reduce the volume. It seemed an opportune time to have a snack for we were all still feeling pretty fresh and wanted to keep it that way for what still lay ahead. Once the inner man was satisfied we continued on up valley, still being lightly rained upon until our progress was halted by a buttress. After a fair bit of procrastination over a suitable crossing point I decided it was all too dodgy and not worth the risk. But I had spotted a potential crossing on the way up around half a k back down valley where it sort of braided three times. I thought we’d done extremely well to get this far without having to make a crossing but there was nothing for it but to bite the bullet and head back downstream to a safer spot.
It proved to be an excellent spot to work out our technique because I knew that we had to make at least three more crossings to reach the Gosling hut, the one to access the bypass track around the small in stream waterfall/chute had been eating away in the back of my mind but luckily for us some well positioned in stream boulders meant we were able to form a human chain and get each other into an eddy on the lee sides of each boulder.
On exiting the bypass track there perched atop the terrace was the welcoming sight of Gosling Hut. By now the rain had steadily set in again so the only sensible thing to do was retreat to its cosy confines. We noted our MTC July trip was the last entry in the hut book for this rarely frequented area.
With the rain now pelting down on the tin roof it was an opportune time to reassess the situation, Stay here and make a lightening ascent of the summit early tomorrow morning or grit our teeth and push on. We had a pretty gutsy team for the general consensus was to push on and so with the rain again easing and two pm knocking on the door we left a perfectly good, warm and dry hut!!!
A few hundred meters above the hut we had to cross yet again and with the increased fall there was no room for any error. Working out all our moves before entering the water to form a chain to firstly get Lukas across as he was the nimblest and most balance sensed of us all, then I followed aided by Lukas, and then came Alyssa and Jessica.
From this point I decided wasps or no wasps we were going to bush bash around any obstacles and progress did become painfully slow, one five hundred meter section taking over an hour to pass. I did spot a little flat shelf that I jokingly said might just about accommodate two tents!
All the while I was keeping an eye out for the second side stream on the true left above the hut as this was our exit from the valley to gain the high basin and our campsite for the night. It was about now that we heard Lukas yell “Wasps run” As if we could run, the regenerating thicket and the nature of the slope ruled that out but Alyssa and myself slithered over a steep bank down into the Gosling fairly quickly followed by Lukas who was now nursing multiple stings to his ankles. Jessica who was following behind Lukas spotted them swarming up and did a rapid about turn , her head popping out from above having given them a wide berth just as we started to head downstream in search of her.
It wasn’t all bad for we had stumbled into the Gosling stream thirty or so meters before our exit point, spying a crossing that looked reasonably doable. This was as good a spot as any for a refuel as the path ahead still looked quite exacting not to mention daunting as we were looking into a few hundred or so meters of continuously cascading water to scramble up. As it was now four pm there wasn’t really a lot of time to dally as we set off up the cascade in search of the drier alpine scrub and tussock as the continuous stream cascading off the bush while pushing through was starting to wear a bit thin.
With the alpine tussock came our second wind and on arriving at the foot of a small circ it was suggested we could camp here with the grazing locals or head to the top and get the early morning sun. The early morning sun won with the tents being pitched around six pm on the crest with the barely discernible lump of Mt Bounds to the south west. We had a weather reprieve while cooking and eating tea before light mist again blew in and we retreated to the sleeping bags, the annoying itch from stings meaning sleep didn’t come instantly for all.
I awoke with a bit of a start thinking Id missed the sunrise but was relieved to see it was only 5-15 am with just the beginnings of dawn to the east while overhead it was cloudless with just the hint of a quarter moon. Wow the met service had finally delivered.
The sunrise when it came didn’t disappoint with all from Cloudy Bay to the mighty mass of Tapy silhouetted. All this had worked up a healthy appetite so it was time to crank up the stove for an early morning breakfast to take away the chill. The rest weren’t quite as fixated on sunrises as I to forgo time in the pit. The departure for the summit was a cruisy eight thirty am.
There was method to this madness as the longer we left the descent onto the valley floor the lower the Gosling stream would be thus we could hopefully boulder hop our way down to avoid bush bashing through the little yellow stingy things nesting territory. Isn’t it great when the master plan all starts to come together?
It’s still a deceptively long journey of around one and a quarter ks and six hundred vertical metres following a mix of grassy terraces and scree slopes to make the base of the summit pyramid for a short rocky scramble to the summit trig. Lukas and Jessica gave us a good demonstration of nimbleness and agility for they settled down for the summit vistas a good quarter of an hour ahead of us. Ah well someone has to be last.
When you are on top of the world the urge to stay and continually soak up the atmosphere tends to override logic and today was one of those days, warm and sunny with no breeze to speak of but annoyingly fluffy clouds billowed up around the local tops spoiling what would have been a perfect vista. Oh well even paradise isn’t perfect.
All too soon the time for retreat arrived and we made good use of the scree slopes to speed our descent, the heat shimmers rising off the stark surface as we arrived back at camp to pack. That heat had nicely dried tents and clothing and once packed we decided it was a little early for lunch and so the descent began to the valley floor with Lukas stalking to no avail a big Billy. Conversation dwindled as the temperature rose and we drifted of into our own little worlds as firstly the tussock, then the beech groves were passed by for the alpine scrub and finally yesterdays cascade.
This seemed an opportune time for a latish lunch with Lukas and Jessica cooking up noodles to recharge their batteries while Alyssa supercharged hers with chocolate caramel square. Our mood was somewhat upbeat now as we surveyed the stream falling away in front of us, gone was the frothing and foaming torrent of yesterday. But as they say it’s not over until the fat lady sings as Lukas slipped and slid a little above Gosling Hut losing his glasses to the river and spraining a wrist and as always after the fact, a wakeup call not to become too complacent.
Well with the hut now far behind and the gorge opening out into the braided river flats we could almost taste that cold beer but sadly the rigours of the past days were catching up on us as the braids became a never ending plod. The final straw that almost broke the camel’s back being when we left Gosling Stream to climb up over the spur to drop into the farmed flats of the Waihopai. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun as it was pushing towards seven pm as we shuffled those last few ks through the Angus cows and calves. We mused that wouldn’t it be ironic to have survived the last two days to be taken out on the final hurdle by an over protective mum!!!
The survivors were Alyssa Beatty, Jessica Biggs, Lukas Herrmann and Murray Chapman.
Trip Stats. Meters of rain!!, 32.95 ks return with a total of 1775 vertical metres of ascent.
Parachute Rock Wednesday 13 December 2017
Due to road works, the journey to Lake Rotoiti took a good two hours so we were pleased to get walking. There was very little water in the stream low down and none higher up. It was partly cloudy and a pleasant temperature for walking up through the beautiful bush. At the rocks lookout point, we had the usual stop to admire the view and take photos over the lake, before carrying on up the rock and scree area to the ridge. There was a distinctly cool breeze on the west side but, just a metre down the other side, it was pleasantly warm. The visibility was excellent with good light for photos. We were entertained by a helicopter flying over close to us, circling round lower down, and then landing beside one of the many small tarns below. Two men and two women got out, the women each with a small pack. We had fun expounding all sorts of wild and wacky theories as to what they were doing there, the least interesting and most likely one being an expensive lunch outing. Eventually, and reluctantly, we decided to leave our perch and head down. We met a number of people, from different countries, on their way up. Once down at lake level, Alison and I met a kiwi man with an obviously heavy pack at the start of an eight day tramp. The drive back to Blenheim was pleasantly straight forward as the road workers had packed up for the day.
George Arnesen (Leader), Sue McKenzie, Steph Blackmore, Geoff Butcher, Alison Scobie, Paulette O’Sullivan, Jane Minto (Scribe).
Salisbury Lodge hut wardens
After seeing requests from DOC in the FMC magazine and the Motorhome magazine, Kerry decided to volunteer for hut wardens summer placements. Salisbury Lodge and the Tablelands was an area we knew reasonably well and knew access with a weeks load of food etc was achievable for me. DOC staff in Nelson and Motueka were really helpful with a meeting of wardens the week before we went in at the start of the Warden season. Our time started on a very HOT note, walking in on an exceptionally hot day but a ride part way with track staff made it not quite so bad. Luckily the goat shooters had finished and we got separate accommodation in an ex Forest Service hut -a little luxury retreat, solar lighting and gas cooking with good sized buckets for a sluice down after a days walking. Other times we had walked to Salisbury then out the next day, same with Balloon Hut from the Cobb but this time we had a week to really explore as we also checked Balloon Hut so explored Bishops cave and an old goldminers camp. Also went part way down the Leslie track to Splugeons Shelter-magnificent views. The Potholes area was in full flower of Maori Onion so nice to have time to really enjoy.
Kerry found a good cave the DOC guys told him about but a good earthquake that night put me off going back to it the next day.
On the whole the trampers were easy to deal with and cleaning the hut and loos useful work. Luckily DOC gave good instructions about not entering into any discussion or arguments about 1080 or other policies so on meeting an irate hunter carrying a gun ranting about the lack of deer on the way in, we could just tutt tutt in pretended sympathy and carry on. We were more than thrilled though to have a weka family at our hut until they started nicking anything that wasn’t nailed down and in the end I barricaded the open door with banana boxes. The caring parents fed the chicks our soap (luckily tiny cake) scroggin and obviously wanted to educate them well as Kerry’s book nearly disappeared but was too heavy. Entertaining but frustrating!
As a holiday I would rate the week highly and willingly again be a hut warden and will now see what else DOC needs a hand with. Pam Millard
Ferny Gair 3rd and 4th January
Whilst power walking up Beeby’s Knob a familiar chirping sound began to emit from the top pocket of the pack and upon investigation I read a text. “Do you want to do something” Helmut had obviously over indulged and was wanting to rid the Christmas dinner excess. Hmmm I’m sure the smiling assassin can think of something suitably appropriate to rid that excess.
So here we were a few days later winding our way up Bernard Masons four wheel drive track, our initial destination being the road end beside his private Tummil Hut. Our number had swelled from two to three as the lure of Ferny Gair’s summit or maybe just a bit of good old body thrashing was too much for Raffaela to pass up on. It could have been four but Alyssa’s boss was not as obliging. Our numbers did swell a little more on the journey in as we bundled Marcus Waters of Antarctic Peninsula kayak circumnavigation fame and family Erin, Cam and Emily onto the deck as they parked their car up at the first river crossing .
It was pleasant walking under the forest canopy to a loud chorus of Bellbirds, although the humidity created by the northerly airflow drifting south had us leaking profusely on our arrival at Lake Alexander. It’s not often I dip my toes but even I with some ribbing and persuasion from the rest succumbed to the obliging waters of Lake Alexander.
With an afternoon to kill I went for a wander up valley while Marcus and Family, only in for a day trip headed back out to the road end while Raffaela and Helmut settled for an afternoon siesta, partying the prior night catching up on Raffaela.
With tomorrows route sussed out and the evening closing in it was time for a good old pasta hotpot, well for me anyway as the others didn’t share my enthusiasm for it and prepared alternatives. As if there could be an alternative!!!
With the evening meal consumed and morning gear organised Helmut and I went in search of some photographic opportunities. Sometimes it all comes together but this evening our photographic prowess didn’t come to the fore so we were left with little option but to retreat to our pits. With all the windows wide open to dissipate the humid heat we drifted of to the sound of a full symphony by the light of a full moon from the local frog population, well that is except for Raffaela who was oblivious to all sound having stuffed earplugs in both ears.
An urge for a four am pee and a grumbling stomach got me thinking why not just get up, have an early breakfast, followed by an alpine start to beat the heat. Helmuts love of food meant he was always going to be a starter but Raffaela wasn’t initially convinced by this rather rash move as it was eating into her pit time but begrudgingly came to appreciate it as we were almost off the spur leading onto the main range before the first rays of the morning light struck us.
We had successfully negotiated the side stream from the main valley floor up to the rock bivy in the half light of pre dawn to fill our water bottles as this was going to be the last water for five hours. Short work was then made of the ascent into Wild Sheep Saddle at 951 meters. From here it was relatively straight forward following the aret of the spur heading due south as Bernard Mason had cut a path through the regenerating manuka and scrub which upon exiting there were the odd strategically placed waratahs to aid in foggy white out conditions that are not entirely uncommon up here.
Once upon the main range proper, there three kilometres in the distance tucked a little of to the side of endless bumps was much to Raffaelas dismay, the summit of Ferny Gair. She was hoping for one of the closer bumps but still three hundred vertical meters over three ks meant the gradient was thankfully going to be pretty cruisy. Although still very humid the decaying anticyclone to the east was still doing just enough to fend off the northerly front moving south, the high cirrus taking the edge off the sun as we summited in breathless conditions at nine thirty to admire the stunning surrounds and dream of future forays to this neck of the woods.
After a leisurely smoko the time to depart arrived with both Raffaela and Helmut keen to get moving as they were a little concerned at my vagueness as to what lay ahead on top of the fact Id just said it would be at least six hours back down to the chariot.
The descent back down into wild Sheep Saddle proved to be effortless on the lungs but rather tedious for knees and quads and so a rather timely lunch break was taken at this point.
With the inner man and woman satisfied we dropped off the saddle into the unknown of Parakeet Valley. All bode well for the first five minutes or so and then we hit the windfall and no it wasn’t just the odd tree. A hurricane must have roared through the saddle and down the valley a few years ago to leave this trail of carnage. Well there was no turning back and on the positive side we were at least going down!!!
After two hours of scrambling over and around while keeping an eye out for the vague track markers, well to be fair there was no track, Raffaela suffered a minor meltdown so out came the soft sugary jubes as we stretched out on the forest floor to relax and refuel. Isn’t it amazing what a sugar high can do and to boot the terrain eased and before we knew it we were at the junction of Parakeet Valley and the track leading to Pig Whare Saddle. Nestled at this junction was Bernard’s rustic bivy hut built into a rock face. At this point my name became mud because I had assured the team that we would find the remnants off the old four wheel drive track that had been bulldozed up into Pig Whare Saddle from the Dillon river. Unfortunately and unbeknown to me the track had been pushed to and just beyond the saddle to be abandoned I now presume because of the nature of the terrain. It was not all bad as we were going down valley and this walking track was in reasonably good condition skirting above gorgy sections of the Tummil River.
I did redeem myself ever so slightly as four hundred meters from the Tummil Hut I did find a four wheel drive road leading out of the true left branch of the Tummil River that produced an ear to ear grin from Raffaela. Well after ten hours and fifty five minutes she reckoned she deserved that awaiting cool ale and so did we.
Red Hills Hut via Beeby’s Knob track and Maitland track Sunday 26 November 2017
With no road works on a Sunday, we made good time travelling up the Wairau Valley. Murray had been staying at his bach and we picked him up at the Red Hills car park, leaving his ute there. From Beeby’s Knob car park we made steady progress up the road track, no one being in a hurry. Andy and his ten year old son Luke were on their first MTC trip. Luke had already been on a number of tramps with his dad, including up Fishtail. Ross soon engaged Luke as a keen assistant in the hunt for geo-caches - small containers hidden near the track and located by checking grid references on a GPS and using clues such as ‘tree stump’ or ‘pylon.’ Luke’s name and the date were then recorded on the paper inside the container. We had a smoko break at the Maitland track junction. Murray was keen to go up to the top of Beeby’s Knob, but as the top was in cloud there were no other takers.
The Maitland track goes through beautiful bush making for a lovely walking track but it is definitely a technical mountain bike route with sharp turns, roots and tree stumps, on uneven and often steep ground. We had a leisurely lunch at Red Hills hut, meeting a father with his young daughter, who had cycled up the road from the car park. The others in their party were out biking the circuit. Most of us went a short way up the tussock behind the hut to get a wider view to the south before walking down the road. Some people stopped to look at the cobb cottage and take photos. The path from there to the car park through the bush was especially lovely, with a carpet of red, yellow and orange beech leaves. There were three options for crossing the stream a few metres before the car park, all of which were tried: across the large high log (dry boots), walking straight through (water to the top of boots), on the low and very slippery log (wet to chest level). At the car park we had the pleasant surprise of meeting club members Carol McKee and Matt Holland, who knew from the itinerary that we might be there. A very enjoyable and varied day.
Murray Chapman, Geoff Butcher, Ross McGerty, Bill Woollcombe, Rafaella Dragoni, Ling Sun, Andy Petrie, Luke Petrie, Jane Minto (Leader)Penzance to Elaine Bay Sunday 7 January 2018
Driver Alison kindly picked up four passengers at Horton Park, Springlands, Renwick and Havelock. On the way out there were spots of rain on the windscreen but that was it for the rest of the day and the sun came out when we got to Penzance. (The iconic tree in the middle of the road on the way there still had Christmas decorations on it.) Luckily it wasn’t too hot for the climb up the power line track above the settlement. The track had obviously been used by work vehicles so the clay was a bit churned up making it much less slippery than usual. When we were walking down the road to Elaine Bay there was a sudden exodus of dozens of camper vans. There were only a few people left at the bay, making it peaceful for our lunch break. We sat on the wharf watching small fish and a big sting ray that swam past a few times within two metres of us. After lunch we followed the coastal track. Once past the baches, and then the private hut, the bush is just beautiful. Everyone really enjoyed that part of the walk, especially George who was amazed to be able to hear the sound of cicadas, thanks to his new hearing aids. The wonders of modern technology! Altogether a lovely day out.
Alison Scobie, Geoff Butcher, George Arnesen, Sari Lewis, Jane Minto (Leader)