Catchpool – South Saddle - Matthews Track (M)
January 26 2012
As the temptation to make a very silly joke is too great, here goes: what has 13 heads, 26 knees and crawls across South Saddle?
The Wednesday trip was postponed until Thursday so trampers could attend the funeral of Michael Taylor. Michael definitely got the stunning weather. We set off at 8.45 the next day with a forecast of gale-force winds, but at least it was dry and it was a delight to stroll along the track to the river and then up the river bed in mellow conditions.
Our party of 12 swelled to 13 at Goat Stream, where Bill Stephenson was waiting for us. He was doing some work on a hut further up the valley and had arranged to join us at this point, where we had morning tea.
The spur on the true right of Goat Stream climbs steeply to about 540 metres. It has become overgrown and there are a number of windfalls. Someone has kindly put in a number of blue markers for much of the way to the top. Trampers need to keep a keen eye out, however the markers are well-placed, and when they disappear there are a number of others, faded, but all going in the right direction. I had also put in some bright orange ones myself through the last section, to keep the party high on the sidle until very close to the saddle. The last few minutes is a descent of less than 10 metres to very old yellow marker, then up a few metres on to the saddle, where we arrived bang-on midday.
The wind on the saddle was ferocious. I was blown down immediately and had to crawl over the lip to get some stability. Over lunch, we enjoyed an outstanding view of the Mukamuka down to a blue Wairarapa ocean of Monet-like white caps, the sea lashed by the unbelievable force of the north-westerly. However, it was hard not worry about how we were going to get through the stretch from the saddle to the Matthews Track. After lunch, we packed our gear and I crouched right down, hoping I could get across eventually by crawling on my knees. Hopefully, as the lightest, if I could get across everyone could. We did, but were very thankful to reach the track, with bleeding knees and stories of hats blown off and glasses at risk. When we got to the bottom of the track, everyone was pretty happy and sprawled out in the warm slip sand to enjoy the sunshine after a bit of an ordeal.
It is a great luxury to be able to tramp mid-week and have these wide-open spaces pretty much to ourselves. We arrived at Catchpool at about 3.45 after a leisurely trip back, including another stop on the beach below the bridge at Turere Stream.
- Party members
- Members: Joan Basher, Debbie Byers, Marg Conal (leader and scribe), Tricia French, Paddy Gresham, John Hill, Howard Larsen, Peter Reimann, Bob Stephens, Bill Stephenson. Non-members: Paul Armstrong, Glen Bush, Janet Nye.