Monday, January 28, 2008

St Arnaud to Flora Car Park (Dec 2006)

Summary

Day 1 Mt Robert Carpark to Sabine Hut 6 hrs 18 kms

Day 2 Sabine Hut to Owen Junction 8 hrs 31.5 kms

Day 3 Owen Junction to Below Sunrise Peak 6.5 hrs 23 kms

Day 4 Below Sunrise Peak to Rolling Junction Hut 9.5 hrs 18 kms

Day 5 Rolling junction to Trevor Carter Hut 8.5 hrs 24 kms

Day 6 Trevor Carter Hut to Crow Hut 6.5 hrs 18 kms

Day 7 Crow Hut to Splugeons Shelter 7 hrs 18.5 kms

Day 8 Splugeons Shelter to Graham Valley 20 kms

Diary

Saturday 16th (Day 1)

Departed Mt Robert car park at 12:55 heading up the Robert ridge, taking the scenic route. However mist and drizzle closed in so that was the end of the view. Arrived at Angelus hut after 3-½ hrs. Quick snack and drink, then off to Sabine hut via Cedric. Spooked a buck chamois in the misty condition on ridge out to Cedric, and did the usual knee bashing dropping off Cedric. Arrived Sabine hut at 19:15, just as it started to rain lightly. 6 hours total walking time today.

Sunday 17th (Day 2)

Up at 06:00 and out the door at 07:45. The sign said 5 hrs to Rotoroa and that’s how long it took! The track is not very well maintained as most people take the boat now a days. Only 1 Robin was sighted near Rotoroa village! Rested and lunched at Rotoroa, then departed at 14:30. It took 2 hrs to reach the main road and a further hr to the picnic area just before Owen Junction. The road walk was hot and tiring, though the pace was fast. Tea was porterhouse steak and noodles, well earned and delicious.

Monday 18th (Day 3)

Slept in til 08:00 and got away at 09:45. It took 3:20 walking time to reach the Bulmer track car park, and what a pleasure it is to have the road walking behind me for now. Roads are fast but very monotonous. I have unfortunately developed a blister under my left foot but my shoulders and hips are getting used to the pack. Away again at 14:15 and it’s so nice to be walking a bush track. 3-¼ hrs later I arrive at the bush line below Sunrise peak. A steady rain sets in so I decide to make camp right here on the track on the only flat ground available. To supplement the meagre water that I have, I spread the fly out on the ground and collect about 1-½ litres of rainwater in 20 mins, which will be enough to get me to the top of Mt Owen tomorrow.
Tuesday 19th (Day 4)
A thick layer of leaf mulch ensured a comfortable nights rest, and the stars were shining brightly by the middle of the night. Arose at 06:00 and watched the sunrise as I cooked breakfast at 06:10. What a great spot to camp with the sunshine streaming into the tent and not a sandfly in sight! Headed off at 08:15 and arrived at Sunrise peak at 09:45. Weather fine and calm. Arrived Mt Owen at 11:45 after picking my way through the labyrinth of rocks. I dry out the gear while I lunch in the pleasant conditions. Away again at 12:45 and arrive at Granity Pass hut at 14:15. 3 women in the hut offer me hot water for a cuppa which I gladly accept. They had just done an up and back to Mt Owen prior to me coming over. Left Granity Pass at 15:00 and arrived at Courthouse flat at 17:45 following a steep descent down the ridge route and a 20min grunt up the staircase. Unfortunately I think I may have lost my little toenail on the descent. A quick feed and water and I’m off again to Rolling Junction hut where I stay the night sleeping on the floor. The phone wasn’t working so am unable to touch base with Pam. The evening is pleasant so I am able to dry out the tent in what remains of the evening.

Wednesday 20th (Day 5)

Slept surprisingly well on the floor but was woken about 11pm by the sound of my cup falling off the billy. I did not see who the culprit was. Away at 08:00, passed Kings Hut at 11:00 and stopped at the more interesting Cecil kings Hut for a cuppa and snack. I have struggled a bit this morning, as I am a still a bit jaded from yesterday’s effort. It starts to rain so I decide to rest and wait and see what the weather brings. I lay back on the mattress and dozed. The rain cleared so I left at 12:45 and arrived at Stone hut at 14:45. Feeling a lot better after the rest at Kings and since the weather looks reasonable with low cloud but blue sky visible above, I decide to carry on to Trevor Carter. Hut via Biggs Tops. I guessed it would take me 4hrs; in fact it took 3 1/2hrs. (50mins to saddle, 1 ½ total to bush line, ¾ across tops) I enjoyed the stands of mountain cabbage trees between the saddle and the bush line. It snowed lightly as I crossed the tops and I found the steep descent into the Karamea quite treacherous in the wet conditions, especially where the track follows beside the creek. A mother with 2 older children had a nice fire going at TC hut. I rinse my socks and dry them overnight over the heat of the fire. The mother reads aloud to her children from one of the Lord of the Rings trilogies.

Thursday 21st (Day 6)

Left TC at 0750, arrived Thor after 2-½ hrs. Left Thor at 1100, arrived Venus after 1 ¾ hrs. Left Venus at 1410, arrived Crow at 1620. This last section was slower as I am getting pain in my LHS inner quad. Walking on flat ground is ok but up or down is not good. A consequence of the previous steep descents of the last 2 days, no doubt. Hopefully an overnight rest will help it. Deer prints quite numerous in the Karamea and there’s not much of a lake left anymore at Apollo creek, as it is basically filled in. In a pool just short of Crow Hut, I spied 6 big trout cruising around. The weather is fine though cool. A few robins about but not a lot of birdsong. As I have arrived early, I spend some time gathering and chopping firewood for a nice fire. I boil lots of water and have a good wash, including socks.

Friday 22nd (Day 7)

Left Crow hut at 0825 and arrive at the Karamea Bend Hut at 1125. The birdsong is nice today, including a robin singing it’s heart out just above me at one of my rest stops. My quad is getting worse with the last hour very slow and torturous. The right leg is having to do all the work on the ups and downs. If there had have been a radio in the hut, I would have called DOC and asked them to relay a message to Pam to say that I will be an extra day. My destination is Splugeons shelter so I plod on , leaving Karamea Bend at 1300. I arrived at Splugeons at 1700. The flatter going along the Leslie has eased the pain in the quad and the smooth benched track up to Splugeons means that I am not having to step up very often. At one stop a friendly robin was within about 300mm of my hand, perched on my walking stick. As I am plodding along dragging my crook leg behind me, I think of the guy’s at work enjoying Xmas beers, but decide that I’m not missing anything at all. In fact I thing they are the one’s missing out. I even wonder whether I should become a tea-to taller, but I can’t see myself holding to it. What a pleasure it is to walk up the benched track to Splugeons Shelter. I wonder how many tracks are made like this now a days? A pleasant evening was had at Splugeons talking with an Alaskan couple. It was at least 11pm before I rolled over in my sleeping bag to sleep.

Saturday 23rd (Day 8)

The leg is a lot better today. I ring Pam from the Salisbury/Balloon junction and confirm a pickup time at the Graham Valley. I chat briefly to a couple there, and they kindly give me a piece of fruit. The lady is a physiotherapist and she tells me that I strained my such & such ligament in my knee. I stop at Salisbury hut where I meet a guy from Reefton who happened to work with my brother Jim in the MOW. The next stop was Flora hut. Here I chat with a guy who happens to be the bird curator at Te Papa. I am in no hurry so we talk at some length. Last night the Alaskan couple asked me how many native birds have become extinct since human colonisation. I didn’t know the answer but the Te Papa guy did. To date 54 species and or subspecies of land birds have. And of course, many of what are left are endangered. I make it down to the Graham Valley without aggravating my quad too much. I have just enough time to brew a cuppa before Pam arrives.

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