Trip Reports: June 2006

23 April 2006 - Mt Robert loop. Cancelled due to wet weather 

22-25 April 2006 - Nina/Hope. Organiser: Marguerite Verheul 

This trip was cancelled late Friday due to bad weather and one of four pulling out due to illness. Another was not keen on an alternative so then there were two. Two very optimistic members took the gamble and planned a 2 / 3 day trip from Lake Chalice up over Old Man and, depending on the weather, one of the numerous tracks down into the Goulter. 

Arrival at the car-park did not look promising, so the trip was changed to go down the Goulter, cross the river and up to old Mans Hut. Surely tramping in the rain under the trees would not be so bad. Lake Chalice had signs of life with gear everywhere but all arrivals out tramping in the rain. We headed down the river believing we could cross the river and arrive at Old Man’s Hut just on dark. But no, the rain kept coming and the river crossing was more than a challenge. So plans were delayed until the next day. 

Fingers crossed we headed for Mid Goulter Hut. The hut was empty, and within a short time the fire was lit, billy boiled and an excellent dinner cooked by Alice. Isn’t it great snuggled up in a dry warm sleeping bag, watching the firelight and listening to rain on the roof and yes - the rain never stopped. The next morning emerged to another day of heavy rain, and at this stage common sense prevailed. We headed out via the track up to Mt Patriarch Road. By mid afternoon we were heading down the Wairau Valley following a very swollen river. We stopped for a quick coffee at the Clansman and then over the hill and back to Nelson, where of course it wasn’t raining! 

Thanks Alice (Patterson) for your optimism! 
 29-30 April 2006 - Cycle trip. Organiser: Andy Clark 

The original planned trip was a 2-day mountain bike/tramp over Marlborough way which was cancelled due to lack of numbers. Just shows we are a tramping club after all. A day’s introductory ride was arranged instead around the Dun Mountain railway and Maitai valley. This proved to be a great ride covering a variety of tracks and trails in the general area. A good time had by myself and Ross Price. 

 29-30 April 2006 - Abel Tasman traverse: Cancelled due to very expensive new/winter coach fares! 

6 May 2006 - Cloustons/Gordons Pyramid. Organiser: Anita Robertson 

Ten eager souls departed the Mt.Arthur carpark on a clear crisp cloudless May morning and with much chatter the turn off to Cloustons at Gridiron Gulch was reached in no time. Several of the party who had not been this way before discovered the track to Clouston’s was a benched, well maintained track with DOC’s pest eradication programme evident. An observant member of the group noticed a juvenile powelliphanta up a moss covered tree trunk and surprise was expressed that these snails had the ability to slither upwards to this extent.

Approaching the mine, the track meandered through stands of dracophyllum and glimpses of the tablelands could be seen. Although the DOC sign warned against entering the mine most of the party couldn’t resist a closer inspection of its dark depths and a general exploration of the area for any mining relics. Curiosity satisfied, the party headed above the bushline onto the tussock slopes of Gordon’s Pyramid where a lengthy lunch was had, basking in the sun while admiring the views of the Tablelands, the Cobb and beyond.

An independent tramper who was walking the same route informed us he had disturbed some quite large ghekos amongst the tussock but unfortunately our somewhat larger party failed to spy any of these creatures. After a bit of a photo shoot at the top of the Pyramid and 360 views admired, the group headed along the ridge tops at a brisk pace to Horseshoe Basin where the calls of the kea accompanied us. Many people were taking advantage of the perfect weather conditions to climb Mt.Arthur and a steady stream of human traffic could be seen moving up and down its slopes.

After a fuel stop at Mt Arthur hut and the group recharged again, we took off at speed reaching the carpark at 4.30pm. Good company, perfect weather conditions and magnificent scenery all contributed to a memorable and enjoyable trip.

The Group; Christine Hoy, Dion Pont, Anita Robertson, Margot Symes, Peter Symes, Colin Duncan, Cathy Worthy, Barry James, Joseph Hippolite, and Noel File.

7 May 2006 - Little Ben. Organiser: Gretchen Williams 

Trampers were – Tony Haddon, Dan McGuire, Shirley de Groot, Rosemary Weir, Mark Stevens, John Olykan, Gillian Arbuthnott, Uta Purcell, Grahame Harris, Margaret Edwards, Lindsay Twiname, Shirley Gabrielson, Willi Stewart, Ruth Hesselyn & Skye, Trish Bennett, Geoff Stevens, Dion Pont, Gretchen Williams (organiser and scribe - funnily enough no one volunteered to write the trip up!). Visitors – Marie Greeks, Steve Beatson, Beth Butler, Neville & Joan McEwan, Jenny Symonds, Lou Kolff. 

Gorgeous weather and a very leisurely and social day. New way up Little Ben – forestry road, friendly kune kune pig in yards, up fence line, sidle over to the native bush, bit of a bash up to the top, lunch by the mast gazing at Ben Nevis, down the long way round the back of Little Ben via the road to the fence, pig and forestry road. Thanks to those who recognised bits from previous trips and showed the way.

14 May 2006 - Mt Robert/Speargrass. Cancelled due to forecast rain and snow. 

20-21 May - John Reid Hut/Mt Baldy. Organiser: Colin Duncan. 

Two things have become very evident (1) stated track times were calculated before the development of digital cameras, and (2) my camera is full of fungi! On the promise of a favourable forecast, four of us (all sporting warm dry socks for a very short while!) braved the crossable but numbing Wangapeka river to embark on the bash up to John Reid hut - a steep track but easy to follow and pleasantly not over-used as evident in the moss carpet to much of the route. It was to be a mycologist’s mecca with fungi of every conceivable description lining the route - white, purple, yellow, orange, red, brown, and yes – green! I’m sure my camera must have bagged several additions to the variously reported 180,000? identified species. Big family groups and lone hermits, the long the short and the tall, their mycelium munching silently away through the forest litter – no doubt entertained, as we were, by the bell bird arias which continued throughout our climb, interrupted only by the heavy breathing of the four concert goers. 

Five hours later (including two unhurried sustenance stops) found us at the ridge, having decided to gain the hut via this route by dropping back down to the hut rather than the sidle along the contours. Not bad timing considering the slowing of the group by the extra weight of fungi being carried in the camera and the regular catching up sessions attributable to the photo sessions! The possible weather deterioration overnight threatened to defeat our summit-ing satisfaction on Sunday so we debated a future attack on Baldy whilst reclining in the ridge tussock. It looked so easy on Topo – but in the flesh it was certainly no jaunt. Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other peaks of the Arthur Range were identified - awesome and challenging in their setting sun ruggedness and apparent inaccessibility. 

Descending to the hut over patches of perma frost and unpredictable ground levels beneath the tussock, varied our normally vertical stance on occasions. The billy was soon on and a fire coaxed into life (well done team!) but entries in the hut-book suggested it was not to be a clean air experience – confirmed quickly as we sat and mused over the row of soggy socks slowly smoking over the embers. It was decided to suggest DOC install a heat pump in accordance with current clean air policy. 

The cold clear start to the night warmed up later with the advancing cloud cover and the sound of precipitation, which raised the temperature considerably, but at dawn it was an easy decision not to rush about trying to accomplish knocking off Baldy with the cloud down below the nearby ridge. Instead, we exited via the ‘sidle’ track and had a leisurely reconnoiter to find a possible future route to Baldy, although this was inconclusive – I await with interest hearing from anyone having done this trip. It was then more entertainment whilst making our way back down through the concert hall foyer. Applause seemed appropriate but there was no finale to prompt such an appreciation. I hope there’s no copyright to the megabytes of video on my flash card – at least it made a change from fungi, and I refuse to take any more shots of bare branches while trying to capture a fantail. Many thanks to Margot and Peter Syms, and Michelle Cunningham for a great weekend.

21 May 2006 - Rabbit Island. Cancelled due to hopeless weather for beach strolling.  

27-28 May 2006 - Murchison Walks. Cancelled due to forecast torrential rain. 

28 May 2006 - Cullifords Hill. Cancelled due to rain.  

3-5 June 2006 - Tablelands Circuit. Cancelled due to dismal Queen’s Birthday weekend weather. 
 11 June 2006 - Starveall Hut. Organiser: Lawrie Halkett. 

Party to MT Starveall Hut : Carol Crocker, Ruth Hesselyn, Andy Clark, Arthur Jonas, Dan McGuire, Lawrie Halkett, and visitors Pat and John McCartin. 

Indications of a potentially inclement day didn’t stop ten hardy soles from taking on that good old regular – Mt Starveall. Most said they had decided to come along because they needed to build that fitness level, but more likely it was to avoid a day of weekend chores! 

Mid-morning breather found the group basking in the sun, part way up the steady grind to Starveall Hut. At this point we were regaled by stories from Andy of his mountain biking tactics (decidedly cunning) riding the epics like “The Rainbow” and “Molesworth Muster”. However, as we proceeded upward the weather closed in completely and by midday we were greeted by the sight of Starveall hut and steady drizzle.

Lunchtime highlight: Everyone was very impressed with the amount of steam John McCartin was giving off, as he plonked himself down in a corner of the hut. Ruth didn’t know whether to reach for the fire extinguisher or her camera and in the end settled on Mr. Kodak to record this wondrous human inferno. 

With deteriorating weather and rapidly cooling conditions it was a quick lunch and fast gallop back to the Hackett car park. Everyone achieved his or her aim – a stiff workout and avoidance of weekend drudgery.

Pyramid Rock party: Beverley Muirhead and Grahame Harris 

With lesser ambitions we left later than the main party and had an uneventful walk to the Pyramid Rock. The scramble to the top was as awkward as ever, and does not appear to have been used much in recent times. From the top we had a good view out under the clouds down the valley of the Hacket Stream, but as we settled down for lunch the clouds swooped lower and we got some light rain. After a few hasty mouthfuls we headed back down uneventfully, with the weather clearing again for the last part of the trip.

Footnote: While the Mt Starveall hike may be considered a bit ho hum, probably because it is so handy, it is a reasonably challenging walk, but more than that it is the interesting variety in flora that makes this trip really special. The high basin just before Mt. Starveall Hut is quite unique, sheltered from the south it carries stands of large red beech. Another spot to watch out for is the bony ridge just above Pyramid Rock, complete with Rata and Dracophylum. And of course there is the rock itself. 

18 June 2006 - Asbestos Mine. Organiser: Cathy Worthy 

Well, you can't say we didn't try to get this trip underway. The forecast was not toooo bad - heavy showers, snow and hail forecast but, as we all know, that is quite different to heavy rain, snow and hail. So off we went! As far as Takaka Hill. Raindrops started at the bottom of the hill, sleet started halfway up, and pelting-down snow started at the three-quarters mark. The landscape was very pretty with snow everywhere - including a thick layer over the road. When Ross's car started to slip sideways when he was pointing forwards we decided it would be quite prudent to turn back and go to the Naked Bun in Mapua instead. Which we did. 

The coffee drinkers were: Karen Wardell, Alison Pickford, Ross Price, Gretchen Williams, Marianne Hermsen, and Cathy Worthy.

18 June 2006 - Loveridge Bivvy/Peak. Organiser: Noel File 

A pleasant -4 deg C was showing on the clock in Richmond at 7.00am as a group of 11 departed for the Baton in three 4x4 vehicles. Snow was falling at the Baton ford by the time we arrived and after a successful crossing in the vehicles, the start of the track was reached. Three of the group decided to do a smaller walk in the general area due to the ‘potato chip’ size snow flakes descending on all concerned. 

With a hiss and a roar, slip and a slide, we were off up valley in heavy snow towards Loveridge Creek and the start of this climb to the old bivvy site and bush line. All was going well with the sighting of a pair of blue ducks 45 minutes up valley. Soon after this, a large crossing of the Baton was encountered, maps were pulled from packs and the general thoughts were that we had passed Loveridge Creek already, as the map showed the first crossing of the river to be above Loveridge Creek. We started on our retreat in this winter wonderland exploring a possible spur which proved wet, steep and no sign of a track.

Somewhat perplexed we headed on back, with the organiser proving just how tough and capable he was after experiencing a chest deep immersion in the frigid waters of the snow-choked Baton River. I hope a camera was on hand to record this membership initiation into the Polar Bear Club!! Well done Noel. 

On this trip were: Noel File, Andy Clark (scribe), Dion Pont, Mark Stevens, Graeme Harris, Margaret Edwards, Shirley De Groot, Willy Stewart, Ruth Hesselyn and visitors Shane Winterton and Ingrid Stewart .

Footnote: Once back home I pulled out an old inch-to-the-mile map out to check out where we went wrong and found that in fact we had to cross the Baton twice before Loveridge Creek was reached. These modern metric maps do not show this. Just shows that new is not always better.