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Heels 1976


page 44


(Or, another loopy trip that's nicer than you'd expect.)

Feb. 5: Well, here we are at Glenorchy, only a day late so far. We catch a bus to the Rees bridge, then up Rees Valley Road in blazing sun, lingering in the shady patches. Rod's pulled a muscle, so we stop at Muddy Creek to rest his leg. Up past Invincible and Arthur's Creeks, and along the flats to Twenty-five Mile Creek and its hut. A bit grotty but very atmospheric; lin d with 1899 newspapers. Tons of: sandflies dead manuka, mice and views of Earnslaw. Norwester coming in.

Feb. 6: It doesn't rain; instead, mist lifts to reveal another perfect day. Rod can barely hobble at a sandfly's pace, so I go prospecting up 25-mile Creek. There are phenomenal gorges in 25-mile, Big Devil and Little Devil Creeks, and high up on the terraces is Big Devil Hut, a cosy musterers' hut. The creek has scary overhanging cliffs, so I snap Lochnagar Peak at the head of 25-mile Valley and bomb off back to safer ground. Totally magnificent views of Earnslaw, Moira, Ellie.

Feb. 7: Rain, and snow to 4000 feet. Read Asimov all day. Three Americans turn up later, having come over Rees Saddle. One has no food and is walking in his socks.

Feb. 8: We leave at lunchtime and head up to Shelter Rock. Warm and fine, it's pleasant to wander up grassflats and along good tracks through open bush. Late lunch among boulders and sandflies at the bottom of Clarke Slip, then through bush and clearings to Shelter Rock Hut, two to three hours. The hut is fetid, dark and small. We continue up he track about 15 minutes to camp in the last patch of bush in the valley.- a psychological gain.

Feb. 9: This was to be an early start, but it's 9 a.m. when we finally get away. Another clear frosty day. The Cairned track leads up the creekbed and crosses to the true left to sidle high through scratchy scrub. In the basins at the head of the valley, the track is indefinite but the saddle obvious - straight ahead. The Rees river is more ground-up schist than water at th s point, and looks like chrome paint, page 45beautiful in the sum. The short climb to the saddle is up steepish snowgrass, to give views into Snowy Creek and down to the Dart. Plenty of snow is still lying from two days ago, especially in the head of Snowy Creek. Down the creek, bad weather wreaths the peaks in cloud, but Lydia and the Snowdrift Range are visible briefly as we descend to the Dart.

Some poles and cains mark the route down the terraces on a long sidle above the Snowy, down to the crossing which is bridged. A gradual climb around the slopes of Mt. Headlong to avoid an impressive cataract-y gorge, then steeply down the cairned route to the junction of the Snowy and Dart. The upper Dart looks grey and morainic, with increasing cloud.

We are running short of time now, as a result of several days' delay earlier. So at 4.30p.m. we leave Dart Hut and carry on down to Cattle Flats, arriving there about 7 O'clock. A good track all the way, but indistinct where it crosses slips. Our most tiring day, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Feb. 10: A good plod down Cattle Flats - beautiful golden grass in full sunlight - then bush to Daleys Flats where a new Park Board hut attracts all the sandflies for miles around.

After a lunchstop, it's down past collapsing Dredge Hut to Sandy Bluff which is sidled on a well-blasted track. Down through more featureless bush, short on time again, to Chinaman's Bluff which also has a benched track around it. Our camp is immediately after, below bluffs and tall manuka. The peaks of the Beans Burn make a beaut. sight at sunset. Good views of snowy ranges all day, but sandflies too bad to stop and admire them.

Feb. 11: Up at 6 O'clock and away by 7.30. Rush, panic; Rod must catch the bus to Queenstown or be late for his appointment with the Garden of Eden.

Shortcuts down the riverbed do'nt work; the road is quicker. We get fouled up at hte northen tip of Mount Alfred, where the river cuts in hard to the bank, and lose precious time. However it works out O.K.; down through Dart Valley Station and sheep-tracked bracken to the road. I miss the bus and have to walk up to Routeburn, but Rod's in time to catch the bus on it's return to Queenstown.

A recommended trip if you have'nt got much time, with tons of scope for sidetrips if you have. Go in autumn when the loopies page 46have gone and the weather's better.

Rod Gilman and Jane Forsyth did the trip. Jane wrote it up;( Rod did not. -Ed. )

drawing of mountains