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Trip Reports 2018-01-31-Atiwhakatu Watercourse

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This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 90, no 2, March 2018

Too windy for Baldy so what to do? F

31 Jan 31

Four signed up for the proposed trip to Baldy via off-track options from Jumbo Hut. Two people chose to return to the carpark upon reaching Jumbo Hut via the old Jumbo Track. So as a party of two, Tony and I dropped off the old Jumbo Track to the bushline of the first spur running north. We discovered much leatherwood and waist-high, densely packed vegetation. We also discovered it was very exposed to the strong winds that had not been obvious at all on the journey to Jumbo. We looked across to the vegetation on the spur we thought we might ascend onto Baldy and saw the flattened tops and realised how exposed it would be above the bushline that day. Reconsidering our plans, we decided to explore another spur to the west with the idea of walking down the Atiwhakatu watercourse. Sidling across and up to the next spur proved difficult and slow so we went back up to the Jumbo Track and up to the next tree-covered spur. Once we got under the trees the going was steepish with hand holds available from grasses. We descended over 500 metres in an hour, encountering no major obstacles. The spur meandered a little with some sections being quite broad and other bits where it was well defined. Surprisingly there are no blazes or Peter Jagger markers. Some loose gravelly sections about 10 metres above the stream meant I covered four metres of ground with a full body scrape at top speed but no major injury occurred. Attaining the stream we had lunch. From our lunch spot we could see a tree lined spur on the true left that looked like a good prospect for climbing up to Baldy on another occasion. We did not explore it as we were aware it would mean an even longer wait at the road end for party members who had returned by the shorter route.

Some of the boulders in the stream are truly enormous, 3-4 cubic metres, and as I looked at the sparkling, gently gurgling water it was hard to imagine the stream being forceful enough to deposit such monster rocks. Fortunately with the dry summer we encountered no raging sections though there were plenty of deep pools and small two metre waterfalls to negotiate. The medium sized boulders made for excellent hopping opportunities. Needless to say we were required to climb up out of the stream on several occasions to avoid huge drops or wet backpacks. In the first half hour of travel exiting the stream also meant finding a re-entry point, which wasn’t always straightforward but this problem disappeared the further downstream we got. We passed two large slips and several smaller ones on the true right of the stream. Two hours later we arrived at the bridge. It was great to be back on a track after three hours off-track work. Just over two hours later we were back at the car park, completing the 24 km trip in 10 hours.

Party members
Tony Black, Tricia French (leader and scribe), (accompanied by Wayne Perkins and Celia Wade-Brown to Jumbo Hut)

Page last modified on 2018 Apr 12 02:31

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