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Trip Reports 2018-01-28-Pinnacle-Donnelly Flat

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This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 90, no 3, April 2018

Pinnacle- Bumps 846, 634-Donnelly Flat

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Club medium groups traversing Pinnacle take either of a couple of longer routes, passing by Atiwhakatu Hut on their return. But for an easy-medium trip, this shorter loop is ideal, especially in summer when the trip can be finished with a swim. When I first made this circuit, on a John Thomson trip, the tracks were more like just routes. At some earlier time Iím told, most likely before the first Atiwhakatu Hut, the ridge line from Atiwhakatu Saddle to Holdsworth Lodge had been a major route. Since upgrades to the Atiwhakatu Track, these ridge tracks had become somewhat overgrown, until recently. It was not the nice clear day and stinking hot weather we expected, but low cloud and persistent morning mist that accompanied our start from Holdsworth Lodge along the track on the true left of the Atiwhakatu River. Before the trip I had been contacted by club member Wayne Griffen, who was considering joining us until he realized a knee would not be up to it currently. What he did tell me though, was about all his recent track work. We were indeed very impressed with the state of the tracks, with plenty of rather new looking markers. No obstacles or windfalls were found that we could inform about later. DOC has been organizing pest control right up to Pinnacle and near the river. A pair of Kereru flapped very close to our heads while other chirping could be heard.

After a small side stream the track climbs up close to the top edge of a large slip, from where a grand view over Donnelly Flat can be seen. On upwards through most attractive bush, the track eventually levels out in places until after the final push it emerges through the trees to the top of Pinnacle. But there was still no view to the Holdsworth-Jumbo ridge for us even though the forecast had suggested the mist would be gone by midday. The Eyebrights and Gentians were in full flowerbut the Clemisias finished and it was disappointing to see a few ragwort plants. Still, an ideal spot on which years ago two silver beech trees had been cut low to assist the view from the stony clearing.

Refuelled by lunch, we walked back into the bush on the northern side, down into the gentle saddle and over to bump 846, where a hard turn left angles one correctly for the 2nd saddle and climb up to bump 634. The warmth of the day was increasing, so a few drink stops punctuated the afternoon. At 634, Wayne had fixed a fairly large aluminium slab sign on a tree, indicating the alternative route to Donnelly Flat.

The long ridge back from 634 is very easy travel, finishing with an abrupt drop into the mouth of a side stream, made easier by a few metres of fixed rope. At this time of the year the river is expected to be low, but always an awareness of any recent downpours is needed. On the other side of the river another fixed rope (both Wayne jobs) helped us up to the old Atiwhakatu Track, just a few minutes from Donnelly Flat. We had seen only one other person until almost back at Holdsworth Lodge.

Party members
Hugh Barr, Muriel Christenson, Michele Dickson (leader and scribe), Christine Leighs, Marris Weight, Alan Wright,

Deb West

Page last modified on 2018 Apr 10 00:32

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