Published: March 13th 2011March 13th 2011
March 4, 2011 - Carrington Hut
After the last tramp, I needed some rest. And I got it. Several very nice rest days. Before too long though, you start to feel the itch to get back out. We had made our way to Christchurch to resupply at Jim and Helen's. We headed out and drove to Lake Clearwater to camp for the night.
It was very windy, but we managed to find a place to camp in some trees, which provided shelter from the gales. In the morning we drove by Mount Sunday. The small green bump lies in the midst of a gigantic green valley. What makes it cool is that it is where Edoras, the capital of Rohan was built and filmed for the Lord of the Rings. Starring at the hill, I allowed myself a small geek out moment, imagining the Golden Hall and standing in Middle-Earth.
From there we went to Arthur's Pass. This area is much more rugged, bigger, and open then the West Coast. The vegetation is lighter, and the grey mountains soar. We headed to the home of our friends from Stewart Island, Mel and Morgan. Hard to believe that it has been an
entire month since that epic tramp. It was great seeing them again. We stay there for the night, and then today we left for some tramping in the area. We'll walk in to Carrington Hut, and base out of there.
The march in is along a mostly flat river, the Waimakariri. The river valley is enormous. As we tramped in the wind was blowing through at ludicrous speed. Sand and river silt became flying debris. Several times all you could do was duck and cover, lest your skin be torn off your bones. We finally reach a forested strip, that follows the braided river up the valley. Soon we spot the turnoff to the hut.
Carrington Hut is quite big. It can comfortably house 36 people, however, we're the only ones here right now. Weather is supposed to be poor tomorrow, so we'll just chill at the hut for a day.
March 6, 2011 - Harman's Pass
The weather yesterday was as bad as advertised. A cold rain fell from grey skies steadily throughout the entire day. Two hunters showed up late in the day, but otherwise the large hut was mostly empty. This morning the sky had cleared.
The hunters were gone, leaving just the three of us. We decided to take a day trip up to Harman's Pass.
We set out from the hut and made for a river, which we would follow up a gorge to the pass. We tramp mostly in the riverbed, scrambling along boulders as we go. The clear skies offered amazing views the entire way up. As we climbed we passed several impressive waterfalls, cascading down in white ribbons from high green and grey walls of the valley. When we reach the pass we break for lunch.
Harman's Pass is a beautiful one. It's not very high, instead resting in a wide flat area among the surrounding peaks. The views in any direction were breathtaking. We hang out up there for a while. Andrew and Chad go to check out Whitehorn Pass near by. I'm content to wander around the rolling hills and large rocky bluffs near Harman.
Soon we head back to Carrington Hut. We arrive to find 11 other people there. I didn't mind at all, considering they had made a fire, and the hut was gloriously warm. Today's tramp was great. Tomorrow we'll head to another hut.
7, 2011 - Waimakariri Falls Hut
We slept in today (again). When we awoke we prepared to leave Carrington for the next hut. Most of the other people were going to the hut we had originally planned on, which would've made for a tight fit. So instead we decided to head up to Waimakariri Falls Hut.
We headed back to the river of the same name, and followed it up valley. The hike up is great. The sky was blue, with a few billowing white clouds. We stay close to the river, and climbing over and around the rocky boulders up the verdant dale. Today's tramp offered by far the most waterfalls I can recall in a single day.
When we drew near to the hut we spot the great and massive falls for which it is named. The hut itself is a small one, resting near the edge of a flat grassy bluff. Quite a change from Carrington, but it will do nicely. The views all around us are awesome.
We've just finished dinner. I plan to zone out a bit, and maybe do some reading. We realized today that we now officially have three weeks left in the
country. It's frightening how quickly time has flown by out here. Almost time to return to reality. But not yet. Tomorrow we'll climb over a col and head down another valley to the highway.
March 8, 2011 - Waimakariri Col and The Long Shortcut
We woke early today, and tried to get a good start on the day. Before 9:00 we'd eaten, packed, and were set to head out. Our route out was said to be somewhat difficult, but at this point we can handle just about anything. The way out will take us over Waimakariri Col, and follow the Rolleston River down a valley and out to the road.
Excellent time is made up to Waimakariri Col. Today the weather is fine and the skies are clear. The views atop the col are incredible. Behind us, the way we've come, rose giant mountains, like grey-green leviathans surrounded by an endless mantle of blue sky, and occasionally crowned with a white cloud. To our front lie the vast vale we'd follow out. It sat below us blanketed in white clouds, reminding me of a great white sea stretching out to fill the lands as far as the eye could
see. Away in the distance, massive mountain peaks pierced the clouds, like tiny grey islands rising from the depths. We started to make our way down into the valley. The hot sun burned the cloud away as we did, and before long we were again tramping under blue skies.
Soon we pick up the Rolleston River. It cuts the valley steeply, and flows down into a deep gorge. We'll have to sidle along the wall of the dale high to avoid this. In the distance we spot the scree slopes we're meant to traverse to bypass the gorge. From far away the steep scree doesn't look that bad, and over a lunch break I'm confidently boasting of how easy the day's been so far. Then we actually got to the scree...
Scree fields are giant areas where landslides, or slips, have occurred. The rocks can range in all sizes, from small and fine, to large boulders. This scree was steep. Not dangerously so, but if you were to fall, you'd likely slide down a good way. This would be annoying, as scree can be stubbornly difficult to climb up. Often for every step forward you attempt, you'll slide two steps
backwards, so going up is a grind.
Negotiating these scree fields ended up taking quite a bit longer then anticipated. When we finally reach the river, past the gorge, we're all pretty beat. We pick up the marked trail, which leads you high along the opposite wall of the valley and into the bush, as it follows the raging river's descent. The way is cut, so the bush isn't too thick, but the going is still a slog. We finally reach a gully that takes us back down to the Rolleston. We'll follow the winding river along its banks from here.
Eventually, we spot the road and make for it. Chad hitches a ride back to Arthur's Pass to get the car. Soon we're all back at Mel and Morgan's place. Today's tramp ended up being a long one, and quite a bit harder then we thought it would be. It clocked in at nine and a half hours, and second half was a bit brutal. Still, overall it was a good tramp. Hopefully, one of our last hard days.
March 10, 2011 - Edwards Hut
Late start today. We had taken a rest day at Mel and Morgan's.
Today we're headed off for a short three day tramp. We lazed around their house all morning. At noon we had lunch, and headed to the trail head. We'd be walking out at a different location, so Andrew and I waited for Chad to drive the car back to Mel and Morgan's place in Arthur's Pass, and hitch back to the trail head. It was about 2:00 before we started walking.
We had a short tramp today, up the Edwards River. The going was pretty easy, and began by following the riverbed. When we reached the uphill portion of today's tramp, we sidle the forested valley walls. The undulating way wound up the side of the green vale and soon we found ourselves atop of a wide flat area. A short walk later we arrived at tonight's hut, Edwards Hut.
Today was a nice walk. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and the uphill very easy going. A nice change. Hopefully we have similar weather tomorrow. We'll be going over three passes on the way to the next hut.
March 11, 2011 - Hawdon Hut
When we awoke this morning the hut was freezing. Fall definitely approaches
in New Zealand. The sun sets sooner, and the dawn seems to come later. In the mornings it's noticeably cooler. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy and foggy when we set off for the first of three passes we had to travel over.
The weather seemed to deteriorate as we went. The clouds became a heavy fog, obscuring the visibility and thus any chances of spectacular views were gone. After a steep, but thankfully brief, climb to the second pass, it began lightly raining. Despite the poor weather, today's tramp was an enjoyable one.
The walk was a route, but the way was easy to find and the going was easy. After the amount of hard tramps we've done, days like this are nice. We walked down the next valley to Hawdon Hut.
This hut is pretty new and thus very nice. It was built in 2008 to replace an old hut that burnt down. When we arrived to the empty hut we were all pretty soaked, so we built a fire. Soon the hut was warm, and we were dry. We'll stay here tonight, and walk out to the road tomorrow.
March 12, 2011 - The Road Out
walk only takes three hours or so to do about 11 kilometers. We walk down a very gentle valley, following the Hawdon River. The way out is well marked, and the track is easy to follow. We make excellent time.
As a final insult, the weather today was fantastic. The least interesting day of the tramp had the best weather. Nearly all blue sky, and wide panoramic views.
In some ways Arthur's Pass reminds me of Colorado, back home. It's very big and very open. The mountains all seem gigantic. It's still much greener then Colorado, due to all the rain.
In three hours we had walked out to the road. We had lunch, and then Chad hitched back to retrieve the car. The end of this short tramp is bittersweet. It marks the last tramp that we have planned in the South Island. At this point we have a little over two weeks left here in New Zealand. It's hard to wrap my head around that. We'll be heading up to the North Island from here.
There are more photos below