Mt Ross MF
6 March 2013
When David Ogilvie asked me to lead a trip to Mt Ross, I didn’t hesitate – I’d done it before, even if, on reflection, nearly thirty years before. We knew of DOC’s decision to no longer maintain the track, and thought we should get in there quick before it was too late. As it turned out, it was a bit late.
Getting to the top was straightforward. From the road end at the saddle beyond Waikuku Lodge a spur climbs NE to begin the walk to Mt Ross around the watershed that encompasses the east branch of the Turanganui River. With a clear sky and little wind, we enjoyed two hours of splendid views as we traversed old farmland, following a well used animal track which had been lightly cut where it went through manuka (and less lightly through the odd gorse bush). By lunch time we had reached beech forest and joined the first of the two DOC tracks that come up from the Turanganui valley. Apart from windfalls, the last hour through the bush to Mt Ross is without problems. This route, though there was once more grassland if I remember rightly, is no worse now than it was many years ago.
Getting off the top was another matter. The second DOC-signed track drops steeply down a beech spur. It showed no indication of recent use. Mercifully, there were few windfalls here. The lower half of it traverses bush that was milled not so very long ago and is full of bulldozed logging tracks which are sometimes clear and sometimes choked with regenerating bush. And they don’t follow a route trampers might have chosen. Under one major windfall the track veered off to the right which had the track finders momentarily baffled. Tony Holmes went back and found the missing markers. When the loggers moved out of the valley, track makers – probably the Forest Service – opportunistically linked up bulldozed ‘roads’ to create what was then no doubt a good walking route. But you had to be able to follow all the signs, for it was not a logical route. And now, perhaps after the heavy snow 18 months ago, lots of the tall regenerating trees and scrub growing on the sides have lost their grip and fallen across the ‘roads’. Stinging nettle thrives amongst the mess. No wonder DOC has washed its hands of it all. If you do want to go that way, the solution is to follow the stream from the moment you reach it – slow going but without difficulty.
Once down to the bottom of the valley, you still have a good hour to wind your way back up the old road to the saddle. As Colin said, it’s not often that you start and end a trip with a long climb.
- Party members
- Colin Cook, Tony Holmes, Alan Knowles, Kim Livingstone, David Ogilvie, Anne Opie, Dave Taylor, John Thomson (leader and scribe)