Maybe I shouldn’t describe today too completely or I might have a hard job finding a tramping companion in time to come.
As usual I listen to the news at 6 am, just as it starts to really rain.
The weather forecast is for heavy rain but already now it’s stopped.
I’m thinking I have a day up my sleeve but when I look back at the valley I see that the pass area has cleared, might as well give it a go.
I went halfway up to the past 18 months ago and thought it would be easier to just to bushbash through the forest directly than get into the speargrass rich tussock, today give that idea a go. The forest was solidly wet, nothing like starting the day with a Little Adventure following the readings on my GPS.
Not as much speargrass as I remembered once I rejoined the route, just a steady plod up the creek for a while, then I chose an immense scree slope, rather than the more indirect grass approach to the two tarns that are on the south side of the pass. It could be deceiving thinking you had made it to the top but there’s still more climbing to the true pass, a notch in the upended rocks, around three hours steady climb from the hut for these tired legs. The wind was hoping low-flying cloud around spectacularly, mist swirling, then evaporating. Then reforming.
Navigational skills are important with getting over the pass, it is in no way obvious which is the actual pass in either direction, it’s way to the hard left or right, depending on the direction of approach. The three tarns look an okay place to throw up a tent but with the high wind swirling around today isn’t the day for that.
I bomb downhill on some dinner plate scree, then mostly dropped into the creek that slowly in the course of the afternoon turns into the West Branch of the Mataki River.
The top part of the valley is outstanding scenery wise, steep and has a right angle bend after a few kilometres. There’s a few waterfall plunging impressively after this morning’s rain in a variety of lengths of drop, some clearly more than 100 m in fall.
When I turn the corner of find that I am in a gorge, some slips to negotiate, scrabbling around hanging onto mountain beech seedlings, and tussock on steep slopes, wondering how I came to be in the situation, some arse sliding in places, when I reach the bottom, an hour wasted, I see an alternative route to avoid it all, just popping through the tussock on the other side of the river.
I’m using my GPS to navigate, it says there is a track starting up on the true right bank, I head to the start, can’t find it, climb around in some regenerating mountain beech for half an hour before giving up and getting back on the river flats.
Ten minutes later a big orange DOC triangle makes an appearance, only about 3 km to the hut.
I staggered into the hut after about 11 hours, although to be fair only around seven hours have been on the move, it’s been too impressive a day to spend it entirely in motion.