22-25 October 2010
OK then. Here goes. Eh?
The customary banter and ritual verbal jousts having been exchanged with the Barr- barrs and Nankervists on the evening ferry, our plucky band retrieved packs and plunged forth to encounter..... a friendly van driver. It had been an auspicious start....with token Italiano Victor retiring with a sore foot and various bungles which will not be recounted here.
Our intended road end camp, 13km up the Pelorus, turned out to be a comfy spot, tranquil and subtly lit by a brilliant moon.
A thoughtful digger driver had concocted a likely hollow for our first morning fire by roadside and rattling sweet creek.
Gentle start, after mutual introductions and sizing up amongst our various members....
The track sidles above the gorgeous emerald green pools of the Pelorus, an exquisite series of swimming holes connected by the mildest of rapids, enough to induce the usual languid morning tea, stone-skipping, camera-clicking etc. So the hot day spun out into a long plod through the beech until the inviting new-mown flats of Middy Hut let us flop tents all over the show. Ralph and Clare summoned up dinner. This area is infested with pigs, judging by the ploughed-field look of the bush fringes and also the pile of charred bones and bristles left around the hut environs. Much wood was burned that evening, thanks to Dave hauling large logs up from the riverbed.
Another dawn chorus began another fine day, though nine trampers feigned sleep until the crackle of flames and promise of tea slowly roused them. Bloody typical. And they call it Labour Weekend.
A three-hour grunt up to the bushline and Rocks Hut got rid of Sunday morning and much sweat. This is where Bill fired up his ancient but trusty Optimus Model 96 for our brew....quite possibly the all-time best mountain stove...the only occasion when a stove was lit. Why o why did we bring five of the damn things?
And then it was time to check out the geological mysteries of the Bryant Range, with Dun Mountain and its raggedy scrub and motley bare bits and curious ophiolite rocks, all shiny, flaky and tortured, interspersed with bright blue hunks of copper ore.
Beyond Dun Mountain lay another mountain, higher, but bush-covered. We were running out of puff after this one, so it was with no little relief that Dew Lakes soon appeared, an absolute gem to camp at. And as much relief at being able to dip water from a tiny basin in the quaking bog to fill our billies. The frigid white Kaikouras showed far to the southeast, framed by mountain cedars beyond the gleaming pond. Some took a photo of all the people taking photos of it. The cluster of billies over our fire looked just as picturesque. Much evening chortling (possibly due to the influence of Dave’s litres of merlot). Anita and Rachel must’ve gone to sleep very happy.
So then...our last day. A pity to leave this spot, to trundle over a series of outcraps (as they became known) down to the Maungatapu Saddle road and out of the freezing wind. Our lunch spot by a secluded creek near Murderers Rock led on to a long road plod amongst gorsey pine country down to our cool green river again, with time for a last splash and scrub before the van turned up. Mogambo!
- Party members
- Anita Radcliffe, Rachel Innes, Howard Symmes, Vivienne Radcliffe, Claire O’Donnell, Ralph Wilkinson, Alison Stephenson, Peter Radcliffe (leader and scribe), Bill Stephenson and Dave Cuttance.