|Joining the CTC|
|About the CTC|
Maps F38 and F39
Nine of us headed south early on a hot sunny Boxing Day. There was some concern in the second car that Flo had sampled a little too much Christmas cheer as we watched her weave all over the road - but she pulled over and to our relief said her steering was playing up! This caused a slight delay as she headed back to swap with Stu's car. It was a very scenic trip down to Wanaka with great views of Mount Cook and the lakes.
After meeting Andrew's mum in Makarora (who kindly did our car shuffle for us to the Matukituki) it was time for the exciting jet boat ride up the Wilkin River to Kerin Forks Hut. A wonderful meal of Xmas leftovers was devoured by all while Andrew managed to polish off a 3 litre cask of wine basically on his own! One assumes he regretted this in the morning! It was dusk as we set up the radio for the sked but that was OK - Jim's fluorescent orange (where are my sunglasses?) T shirt lit up the hut and surrounding valley nicely. Some time during the evening Michelle was heard to say from the depths of her sleeping bag in a dark corner of the hut in a very Sharon Stone like tone "How do you want it Andrew" but that's another story!!!.
The first day of tramping dawned slightly overcast. We all managed to stagger up the valley to Top Forks Hut with our heavy packs in under the 6-8 hours recommended which was good going especially with the Barracks bringing up the rear! Michelle (Posh Spice complete with diamond and sapphire ring "just for casual wear") managed to nearly fall into a small lake we circumnavigated past on the way. Top Forks Hut is actually two huts so the group was able to split up into those who wanted the pot belly stove and those who wanted to listen to Jim sleep talk to Stef all night! Sarah tried to get him to be a bit more specific but the sound of pouring rain on the roof apparently drowned his answers out. The pot belly hut also had the advantage of the wit, charm and entertainment of the infamous "Jackson"! During the evening amid the normal hut commotion Emma (Baby Spice) was heard to yell "catch my knickers"! No one took up her offer and luckily they didn't end up in the fire where they were heading! Just as well, because Stu found holding them threateningly over the flames later in the evening worked wonders at finding Andrew's stolen toffee pops!
Eager to leave our packs behind we headed off in sunshine linking up to cross the now flooded river to head off to see Lake Diana, Lake Lucretia, and Lake Castalia. The lakes were very impressive with floating ice bergs and the valley was full of a carpet of Mt Cook Lillies. Emma and Andrew had a bet about who could keep quiet the longest (much torture), not to mention the longest coldest river crossing in history later ("just say the word and we'll get out" says Jim) Rob managed to trick Emma into accidentally saying "yes" but not before Andrew had lost the bet rather convincingly when he fell off the ice berg he was balancing on in the glacier melt lake and hit the freezing cold water! I won't repeat what he said! Snow ball fights while balancing on ice bergs was also attempted with no casualties. Amid slight drizzle we all headed back to the hut and the welcome fire.
The next day we were awakened by our illustrious leader at 6am for the four hour tramp up to the famed Waterfall Face! After a leisurely lunch in the sun (with Michelle fondly nibbling on her "Peter" bread) we set off up the pass in pairs and found a very well defined route up the face and heaps of tussock to hang on to. Safely up the top we found ourselves in a beautiful alpine valley. Rob organised a group photo and asked us all to think of "something nice" as he clicked. Most of the party said "ice-cream" or "Larry's dried pears" but of course Michelle involuntarily came out with "Peter"! After several members of the group had thrown up we carried on up the valley and found a great spot for the tents by a small stream. Some opted for a sleep in the sun while Sarah, Michelle and Larry had a look at Pearson Pass and Stu, Flo, Andrew and Emma climbed up a ridge ½ way up Mt Picklehaube for a fantastic view of Mt Lois and the surrounding mountains. It is really spectacular country.
The next day most of the group climbed Mt Louis up the easy snow basin. The cloud drifted in and with no view on offer only Flo, Jim, Rob and Andrew carried on the last 15 mins to the top. Upon reaching the camp it was decided to drop down the other side of Rabbit Pass that afternoon in case the weather turned nasty. This side was a little trickier but Flo, Rob and Sarah found a route down the steep rock and everyone managed to make it down on to the snow without taking their packs off. Jim nearly slipped when a rock hold decided to give out but quick thinking Sarah (Toy Spice) managed to grab his crutch and swing him back into the rock (ouch!) After a quick snow descent it was off down to the valley below and a roaring bonfire.
The next day dawned beautiful and we were soon wandering down the lovely Matukituki valley. Upon reaching Ruth Flat after some major umming and aring we decided to make the most of the day and climb Sisyphus Peak. It would be kind to say we didn't take the "optimum" route up and after a couple of hours of bush bashing (amid cries of pain) we made it out to the tussock. After climbing up a gut Andrew sent Stu and Jim ahead to test out a ridge to see if it was the way to go. After they frantically indicated it was a "no go" we carried on up the steepish cliff like alternative. Meanwhile, they sauntered on up to the top with their hands in their pockets!! I would like to mention the fact that despite this handicap Flo (Scary Spice) still bet Jim to the top!! No comment! Stu was the only one to see Mt Aspiring before cloud covered it and in case anyone had missed this fact he managed to bring it into every conversation for the rest of the trip! Aspiring aside we got brilliant views of Aspiring National Park in every direction. On the way down Jim accidentally managed to lead Michelle down the wrong ridge (we preferred to think of it as God punishing him!). From the top we could see an open, easy, staircase like creek back down to the camp site so the trip down was a breeze. We got back to camp and Sarah (who had put up all our tents for us, in between lying in the sun and reading) asked us if we had all climbed it? It turned out she had seen us all climb to bush line but the only person she saw get to the top was Jim--or rather Jim's flourescent T shirt! After our 8 hour adventure, and Jim's whiskey, we had to be woken at midnight to wish everyone a "Happy New Year"!
The next day dawned hot and sunny and after Emma tried to explode the MSR in Jim's face (but only succeeding in burning some of her own hair off because she had misjudged the direction of the wind) we were off. It was a pretty track but a hot grind up the Bledisloe Gorge. After lunch in the sun at the top it was a race down to dive into the beautiful green pool at the bottom. Sarah was in such a hurry she forgot to take her sunglasses off and lost them! Rob was quite chuffed to find a pair of $250 sunglasses shortly afterwards when he dived in but had to return them to a delighted Sarah! We camped at Junction Flat with another bonfire. Emma volunteered to sleep in the bivy bag and let Jim have the tent. After she had climbed in for a test run some of the less chivalrous of the group quickly zipped up the bag and wired it shut! While Jim picked her up by her feet Stu made the mistake of picking Emma up by her hair but was quickly convinced by Emma's screams to try her arms instead! Most of the camp was briefly awakened in the middle of the night amid a few angry yells when Emma discovered a rather plump possum busily devouring her lunch!
The next day the keen ones were up at 7am to take the side trip up to the Rock of Ages Biv, while the lazy ones slept in and the silly ones got lost! (Jim and Larry). Despite the major handicap of no map and no instructions Larry managed to find his way up to the Rock of Ages Biv and even with our one hour head start he nearly caught us up before the cars! The view was apparently spectacular. Then it was a cruisy two hour wander out in sunshine and all too soon it was time for ice creams in Wanaka. Then it was off home--one car load taking the scenic route up the West Coast while the other headed straight to Christchurch and hot showers! A great trip had by all--thanks very much Andrew for organizing the trip (not to mention the wonderful weather) in such amazing country.