Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary:tramp No.82
Earnslaw Burn/Gilikson Falls Dec 31 2009
Earnslaw Burn/Gilikson Falls Dec 31 2009
I got to head down south for new years for only two days, so I really wanted to get out for a walk while I was down there as its not a part of the country I get to often. I had a look on my freshmaps software for a suitable area where I could spend one day tramping and found a nice valley(see above) with easy acess from the road and a track to follow. I did a google search on the Gilkison falls at the end of the valley but I could find little info about it, so I had a look at it on Google Earth and it looked promising.
It was gonna be a fairly longish day and also had about one and a half hours drive to get there, so i was up and gone by 6:15 am, had an extremly expensive breakfast at Glenorchy and was at the track and ready to go by 8:30am. I parked at the end of the road as I saw on the map, but couldnt find any signposts of indication of the track, I crossed the river and after hoping a fence found the track and an orange track marker and so off I went. Straight away I started climbing as the track heads upstream fairly high up the side of the valley, the first part of the track travels through very open forest with almost no undergrowth and lots of very dry windfall, the trees were not very large and all looked brittle, it appears not to get very much rain at this lower part of the valley. I cleared this first section then traversed a short span of open swampy grassland before re-entering the forest. As I delved further up the valley the forest became much more beautiful, with very large Beech and some Totora, among others, this was virgin forest. The track was well formed with plenty of markers to keep me on track where the track got a bit vague or where large windfalls caused some detours. Its obvious DOC do maintain this track, but I was suprised there were no signposts at the road end, but they do mention the track on their website.
After 2 and 3/4 hours in the bush I was starting to get board with trees and was looking forward to getting to the open country further up. I stopped in a wide rocky creek bed and had second breakfast, then continued on till after 15 minutes I cleared the bush. The site before me was impressive and the travel from now on was to be very open. The track was still evident but with no marker poles and it keeped dissapearing on me, then I would find it again then loose it again, but the travel was pretty easy and there were waterfalls all along the valley. The scenery was exellent, this is what I had come to see and as I eased round a bend in the valley, finally the full glory of the gaint cliffs and the glacier came into full view. I knew this would be an awesome sight, but I was quite un-prepared for the stunning grandeur of the sight that I was witnessing. My limited vocabulary utterly fails to describe the fabulous vista before me and the tears of joy and gratitude of seeing such a magnificent sight. I was awed by what I was seeing and the feelings I had were of a scale I had not experienced before on a tramp.
I continued up the valley, taking untold inadequate photos, trying to capture the magnitude if the scene before me. I got to the top of the valley after 4 1/2 hours of travel (approx 12km) and sat on the end of a small hillock and justed marvelled at the view while I had lunch.
At 1:30pm, it was time to head back as I did want to get back to my accommadation before midnight, it was new years eve after all, and I didn't want Mrs. Roddus to get worried. Not much to say about the trip out, just covered the same route, but did stop for 1/2 hour at the rock biv on the otherside of river about where the track re-entered the bush. Got back to the car about 6:15pm, exhausted but exhilarated. This is an awesome trip and the Earnslaw Glacier is a must see for any tramper. the only downside was the helicopters flying round in front of the glacier showing tourists the scenery the easy way and that no giant peices of ice fell off and crashed to the valley floor while I was sitting there having lunch. Check out these photos below, although thy really don't portray the true colossus of what I saw.
A nice track
Some more bush
First views after leaving the bush
View of Turret Head
Mt Earnslaw and Glacier
The rock biv