Middle Crossing via Shingle Slip Knob
26-28 November 2010
Neil split his party of eight into two taxi loads, one on the early and one on the later afternoon trains to Masterton. We met at Powell. Saturday dawned brilliantly, but a keen southerly pursued us along the tops to Jumbo and Angle Knob, occasionally enveloping us in a damp mist. Thereafter, the weekend was fine and almost windless.
It is really only the middle bit of a middle crossing that is interesting, and for us that began with the side spur to Shingle Slip Knob, which drops steeply at first and requires the occasional sidle to the north around rocky bluffs.
Then, as far as the bush edge, luxuriant tussock with some low scratchy scrub impeded fast travel and put the Waiohine out of reach for lunch. Russell had entered map references for our descent through the bush on his GPS, and there was more than one altimeter in the party, but map and compass would have done too. Only at one point did Russellís beeping gadget save us the indignity of having to make a later crossing of a steep gully to get on to the saddle we wanted for the bump at .736. Until this point, there was an unusual amount of young silver beech understorey, up to a metre or more high: presumably a sign of successful deer control. It was then steep down to the river, keeping inside the bush a little to the south of a large slip. And it was steep down: 200m down for only 290m in horizontal distance, with in places little but untrustworthy treefern trunks to hold on to. At least there was no cliff at the riverís edge. Nor on the other side, where we had to get a start on the spur between two side streams that leads directly to Andersons Hut. We chose to begin at the downriver toe, and it was uncomfortably steep at first: there are probably better places slightly upriver, for we soon joined animal tracks which had certainly not started up where we did. For whatever reason, there was less undergrowth and more animal tracks here than on the other side, and the climb is straightforward. But it was late afternoon and some of us had slowed down as we pushed on to the end of a ten or eleven hour day. The top - beyond which lies Andersons - has tussock and scrub on it. It looks as if you only have to gain the beech trees on the other side to descend easily to the hut, but no! The hut is protected by another band of very thick leatherwood. Better to follow the scratchy ridge to the north and descend over tussock.
After a clear, quiet night, we were back on well-used tracks, and Neilís pre-ordered shuttle met us at Otaki Forks at four.
- Party members
- Sue Boyde, Neil Challands (leader), Russell Cooke, Bernie Molloy, Sieny Pollard, Janette Roberts, John Thomson (scribe) and Cathy Wylie.