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Heels 1978


page 5


One of the better days - waking up to sunshine and a leisurely breakfast in Mount Arthur hills, then a stroll to inspect the predecessor of the current salubrious accomodation. The sight is enough to chill the bones of the modern tramper - half a dozen sheets of corrugated iron, 3' high and 6' square, now used solely by dogs.

Then up onto the crest of Flora Ridge and gradually we climbed towards Mount Arthur before dropping down into Horseshoe Basin, an area of alpine marble where potholes abound. The northern bluffs below the summit of Mount Arthur look impressive. We had great views from the top the day before - away South Nelson Lakes loom, to the east; Kaikouras, and the vast wilderness of Northwest Nelson to the West.

Then we climb towards the ridge leading to Gordon's Pyramid, Next pick our way down through the gentians to the long saddles. There's only one tricky bit - a step in the ridge, involving pushing down through thickly clustered waist-high speargrass. As we climb to the Pyramid we see in the basin to our left , a tiny tent by a small stream. A brief lunch on the top, a chat with a couple coming the other way and we head down the ridge towards Salisbury Lodge and the Tablelands - more into beech.

We discover bluffs, not serious, and it is possible to get off the track so we do so, blundering through dense undergrowth. Then a nice easy wander to the edge of the bush and abrubtly Salisbury clearing is before us - red-brown-gold in the sun. At Salisbury Lodge we meet others we know, and another lunch follows. On again, the wind stronger now and a light high overcast to the west and south.

We head off through the stunted silver beech of Starvation Ridge and into the open again - more good views, though cloud on Mt Arthur and Gordon's Pyramid is really whipping around. We move on through more stunted beech, more open tussock, and gentians, though not the same type. There is no sense of urgency, rather we enjoy the walk, and Balloon Hut is easy to find in its corner of beech and long-leafed leatherwood.

The hut was a little crowded that night - ten of us, half-a-dozen others, a dog - and eight bunks. However we had balloons, and a quiet birthday celebration, and a leaf thruogh the book to find our names from two Easters ago. A final look at the weather and we decide to decide in the morning what to do the next day. Down Deep Creek, maybe....