By Jason, 30 August 2009
Group: Rob, Adam, Chris, Jason, Helen
Having been pretty firm about this being a fairly fit tripand subsequently attracted a good keen group we were all pretty excited about this trip as none of us had been away for a solid weekend in quite a while. We met at the respectable time of 5:30 at Hunter and then stopping only for dinner(yay no shopping required!!!) and then dessert we were quickly at the road end.Even though we had a small group we managed a good combination of mains and desserts.Therefore I can say with great confidence that while Bavarian Chocolate Moussecake is fantastic energy and will see you to the top of Blue Range in no time a full 1kg of yoghurt after a very large Turkish main is not recommended. Because while he made a strong start at fart tennis poor Adam was pretty quickly regretting his dessert choice and spent the next 1.5 – 2 hours dry retching his way up the hill. Obviously Rob and I were most sympathetic...
The walk in to Cow Creek at night wasn’t particularly difficult, but it was tiring given the large amount of tree fall. Also note that near the Waingawa that although the track seems to dissolve into nothingness it in fact takes a sharp right turn and follows a stream back up the hill for some 20 metres. We spent several minutes trying to locate this, many more trying to go around a slip further on and many many more trying to decide how far up the Waingawa we were before arriving at Cow Creek hut over an hour laterthan desired. However review of the hut book the next morning showed we stillbettered a previous VUWTC Friday night arrival by some two hours!
Arete Forks is a really lovely spot for lunch and we enjoyed a good break there on the wide river bed in the sun. Getting there is a pain in the ass. The track from Cow Creek to Arete Forks sidles above a bit of a gorge and drops in and out of six sizeable streams along the way. Each stream requires a 30m – 100m descent and climb back out the other side. Thankfully these get more and more pronounced as you go so you know it’s not going to get any easier! Also I’m not sure when the track along there was last cleared but it reasonable a hurricane zone. The track has so much debris on it you spend just as much time climbing trees and clambering along branches as you do on the track.
The climb up from Arete to the Waiohine Pinnacles has got some great views and some interesting bits to keep thing entertaining. The pinnacles themselves were interesting but not too technical and the track is actually very good. Even sections that look quite challenging have a pretty good track. From there it’s just a gentle stroll along the tops to Tarn Ridge Hut. The hut is quite nice although the mattresses were mouldy. Mind you there was coal, nowood and a great big mouldy pumpkin on the bench too.
Sunday got off to a great start! The walk from Tarn Ridge Hut to Girdlestone is normally quite easy, however at this time of year the many saddles in the ridge get filled with snow leaving a very sharp spine which is impossible to walk across. The options are either carefully climb down below the snow and sidle around if you can, straddle the spine and slide along IF it looks safe, or more appropriately kick in with your toes to make some steps toget across. Mounting Girdlestone was really the crux of the morning because the snow in that last 100 metres was pretty hard and only just kickable withtramping boots, however we reached the highpoint without any worries and spent a few moments recovering. Thankfully the snow softened up on the other sidefairly quickly and we were soon racing and sliding through powder. A compulsory stop for a token Terrible Trio Topless photo later and we were down on Table Ridge making plans to carrying in a picnic table and have a picnic lunch hereat some point.
The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful save Rob leaning against a tree which snapped off at the base which rather than sliding to a halt a short distance down the hill decided it would roll instead. And roll it did! In fact it picked up speed very quickly and there was only enough time to yell “Tree!!!” before it went hurtling over a bluff and missed Adam by an uncomfortably small margin.
I’ll leave the story here because it’s not really PG from this point on. Adam and Rob kicked me out of the Terrible Trio for being terrible to them (makes no sense, I know!!!). There were curses against peoples mothers, future off spring, KFC tower burgers that were really more like smallhouse burgers and a plethora of other unmentionables.