Mule Trains In The Wanganui
Mule Trains In The Wanganui
Mid-Febuary arrives and it's time for a belated Christmas trip, blessed relief before the varsity year ahead. Chris and I set out for Hokitika joining up with Rikkers and Tony in Christchurch. Off the plane and onto the bus - destination 60 miles south is the Big Wanganui river. Reaching the bridge by mid-afternoon - bugger, I've forgotten the white spirits. A semi-successful sorty by Rikkers into Harihari results in tea and biscuits for him but no white spirits. Straining packs on straining backs we head up the Wanganui. Next morning for me it's back to the road a fast hitch to Hokitika with the local vicar. Plodded around Hokitika managing to get called an Aussie; locals regard everything with a pack on it's back as Austrailian - can't blame them. Leave a few messages, back on the bus with the white spirits, and half a dozen more tubes of Dimp. Next day Rod arrives from Franz with two blocks of curried cheese, 24 Alpine sticks and a tube of Quick-Stick to effect boot repairs. Under way at last, we follow up the ridge between the Adams and Lambert rivers. Three thousand five hundred feet, no water, and heavy packs equals thirst, and finally stops us for the night. Peckish Keas claim responsibility for several major holes in our unused tent and Kea baiting becomes our favorite diversion.
Incredible views, further up the ridge beautiful tarns and basins; and even more amazing in this genuine wilderness, two figures in the distance. Up into the snow and we meet two geoligists doing a survey of the area. Dropping down into a valley, we see lying before us the massive ridge ofthe main divide, shielding the Garden of Eden. We look long and hard to pick out a route leading up and over. Next day the obvious route draws a blank. A delicate siddle across the snow and we move up another snow-gut, perhaps two hundred feet below the crest of the ridge. Again defeated we descend to the valley floor, Chris sporting a cut above the eye and quite a headache, courtesy of a dislodged rock; he pines for his bash hat left behind secure in the Hokitika Police Station. Next dawn, sunburned and weary, we look at the clag ceiling of our enclosed wilderness, chances receeding as time and food are consumed under our superb bivy rock. The "men" have acrack at Mt. Lambert while I descend for a look at the Adams page ii page iii page 53Valley and the Adams Ice-fall. Tony stays behind to nurse his sunburn. I find the heroes returned with plenty of "almost made it" tales. Next day, somewhat dejected, we return over the Adams Tops in misty and penetrating drizzle. Back in Hunters Hut we discuss possibilities for the following day. Varsity looms closer but we wait on the weather. A dismal dawn but starting to improve; Rod and Rikkers head up the Evans, and we head down river and eventually out to Harihari. An evening spent with hospitable locals, to be shared later by our two fellows as they reconsider and follow us out. The going up the Evans too tough while the river was high. We return sombre with thougts of a compelling wilderness area a and a trip that nearly reached the Garden of Eden but as usual gave adequate compensation. Well - perhaps next time.
The "hard" men; Richard Meylan
The "real" men: Chris Mitchell
And "sometime" writer: Jim Metson.
Coming back from the hills
emerging from a warm pool
to a cold wind and a wet towel.