Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Monday, 4 February 2008

Friday 1 to Monday 4 February 2008 - The Routeburn and Caples Tracks

Friday
Three hours to cover 9km and 500m of ascent in forest on a well built and busy track in increasingly intense rain, to Routeburn Falls Hut. Full of dripping people with dripping clothes, rucsacs, sleeping bags etc. Our mapcase leaked. Riflemen (the local bird) flitted beside the path, which passed over a good number of narrow suspension bridges. [Note to Betty: you wouldn't like it!] Very slippery in the hut! Impressive waterfalls. Bush dripping with lichens, liverwort and ferns.
Saturday
A cloudy start. Alpine path to Harris Saddle past Lake Harris, a remnant of glaciation. A side track up Conical Hill is in cloud. Eric, descending, says "no view, 4 degrees C", so we decide to ascend the steep 250m slope. Obvious viewpoints reveal nothing. Reach the top after 40 mins. It is blue above us now. We are just above the cloud, with mountains poking out all around. 19 degrees C, rising over the next 2 hours.

We spent that time brewing, lunching, chatting to others and watching the cloud inversion slowly and completely disappear.
Superb views along the Hollyford valley, all the way out to Martin's Bay on the coast, and across to glacier-draped mountains. Finally drag ourselves away to return to the Saddle, then a 3-hour belvedere walk at around 1200m, before dropping to the excellent Lake MacKenzie Hut. But the lake was too cold, even for Sue to wash in (Ed - but I paddled!).
The last steep section is being desecrated in the interests of tourism. Huge white bags full of stone chippings are to be used to pave the lovely woodland path so that the tourists on this 'Great Walk' won't trip over the roots and sprain their ankles. More about this in a later edit...

Sunday
Sunny again! Despite forecast rain (now postponed till tonight) we enjoyed a bright day for our stroll through green grottos and past the huge 174m Earland Falls to Lake Howden Hut, where we brewed up and said our farewells to various people, including Mr YHA Borrowdale and Tattoo-Tony and Kate, the unlikely barristers. Now very much on our own, we strolled down to the grassy junction between the Caples and Greenstone tracks. An excellent lunch spot, sandfly free, before our first taste of a great walk as opposed to 'A Great Walk'. We spent the next hour and a quarter thrutching up a well-marked path through trees and streams, and over roots, scrabbling a bit at times (very sweaty indeed). Eventually the McKellar Saddle was reached.
Very Scottish scenery apart from the trees. Fine views, briefly, as we motored along a board walk before entering more, less aggressive, trees for the pleasant descent to Upper Caples Hut. This hut has no resident warden. Ten occupants of diverse origin, some communicating better than others, spent a happy evening here before bedtime at sunset (around 9.30pm) as usual.

Monday
The morning's walk out to the scheduled bus at 2pm was a delight. Heavy dew on the long grass made us grateful for bringing gaiters but the sky was blue, the birds were singing and the insects humming. The forecast rain turned out to be a forecaster's unfulfilled dream! The path wove in and out of beech forest into meadows, in which cattle and sheep were grazing further down. Always accompanied by the wide, shallow Caples river meandering down the valley. Nice views to mountains all around. Our last teabags were used to brew at the Mid Caples Hut, only half full last night with four occupants, all of whom were still there when we arrived.

Now, we're back at Kinloch Lodge where their hot tub has been enjoyed, with its views over the head of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains. It looks more like the sea, with waves crashing into the beach nearby, due to the brisk wind. The wind is useful - our washing is drying and there are fewer sandflies!

3 comments:

Night Bird said...

Sue - I can't believe you didn't go for a skinny dip in Lake MacKenzie after your performance at Janet's Foss last Feb. It must have been cold!!

Phreerunner said...

From Nallo Lady
The reason for chickening out was partly due the temperature (around 20 degrees) but more that I would have had to swim in my attractive Rohan knickers only, as no swimming gear taken on this jaunt, plus a towel that you know is slightly smaller than a teatowel! Many burly east europeans looking on....!

Night Bird said...

I see, ... so no-one in a felt hat to tempt you in then?