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Monday, March 29, 2010

Mt Sinclair 28th March 2010 aka A Day In The Fog

Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary:Tramp No. 88
Mt Sinclair 28th March 2010  aka A Day In The Fog

I don't usually bother expending all that energy and experiencing all that agony climbing a steep hill just for the hell of it. I like to have all encompassing views and lovely sunny days to inspire me to do it, but sometimes the weather gods just don't wanna play my tune.
This was another trip with the CTC. Our faithfull leader and the rest of us had been assured by the Metservice website that the Canterbury high country was going to experience a FINE day. Now it appears that their definition of fine is slightly different to mine. If they had predicted overcast with little wind, I would have accepted that, and if they had predicted low cloud shrouding the mountains, with very light snow, I would have congratulated on their pinpoint accuracy and properly have stayed at home and continued reading the latest biography of Led Zeppelin. Still it was a good day, with some interesting events to make up for the lack of views at the top.
I arranged to meet the rest of the party at the Geraldine Arundel Road bridge, over the Rangitata river. I had to leave my place by about 7:00am to get there about the same time as the others. Rushing out the door just after 7, I felt that something wasn't right with my sock in my left shoe, but ignored it as I was only driving and would be changing into my tramping boots later on. I got to the bridge in good time and setteled to wait for the others. Then I remembered my left foot and hopped out of my car to remove my shoe and adjust my sock. After removing my shoe I found my sock to be fine and so started wondering what was going on with my sneaker, I Suddenly had a thought and put my hand in my shoe to see if perhaps the inner soul had bunched up at the toe of the shoe. My finger tips suddenly touched something that didn't feel very shoe like and I quickly withdrew my hand and gave the shoe a downward knock on the towball of my car and much to my surprise a mouse fell out. After a good giggle to my self I tried to ring home on the cell phone to tell the Mrs. what had happened to that mouse the cat had brought in last night, but she didn't answer her phone. When the rest of the party arrived they thought it was hilarious and the well dead mouse was last seen hanging out a car window before being unceremoniously tossed over a fence into a paddock to await further adventures.
With promises that the weather will clear, we proceeded on the long drive up the Rangitata River to Mesopotamia Station. After checking in with the station owner or manager, we drove round to the side of Sugarloaf and prepared for our assent.
The weather was stubbornly refusing to clear and all we could see was the bottom quarter of the mountain. Our leader had a GPS reading of Lake Sinclair, our first destination, and so he pointed us in the right direction and off we went climbing up the face of Mt Sinclair through snowgrass and tussock and other shrubs and disappearing into the cloud after the first 300m or so.
After climbing about 900m in the fog and light snow we dropped down into what we hoped was the lake basin, but we couldn't see anything and started to doubt, but another check of the GPS and further descent, we suddenly stumbled upon the lake. Lunch was had fairly quickly so we didn't all freeze and we optimistically predicted that we would soon climb above the cloud into brilliant sunshine at the top. Again the weather wasn't playing our tune and we stayed in fog all the way to the top at 2065m. A quick stop at the summit, photos of not much were taken and congratulations were issued for making the summit in 3 1/2 hours, including the stop at the lake, at least the very long day the leader had been mentioning was starting to look less likely. As we came back down the same route the weather was kind enough to lift for a moment and give us a view of the lake. We got back to the cars about 4:30pm, which meant we took about 6 hours to do the trip and with the 3 hour or so drive home it looked to be that we'd be back by half seven. Not a chance. After stopping in to see the Station owner/manager again to let him know we all got out safely, we headed back down the road with the other car behind us. After several kms we stopped at a stream to get some water for one of our party and we noticed that the others weren’t behind us, so we waited, and waited, and decided this wasn't right and better go back and look for them we found them still at the Station getting a jump start from the farmer. We set off again, this time we followed them in case something else happened and sure enough after about 10km of so they started loosing power, it appeared that the alternator had gone, so we juiced them up again from our battery and had to do that a couple of times to keep them driving. By the time we got back to Arundel it was 7:30pm and getting dark, there was no way they were going to get back to town like that. FORTUNATLY yours truly had his car sitting at the bridge waiting patiently to go home and so a potential tricky situation was sorted and I didn't get home till after 10pm. Which was still earlier that our leader on his last trip to Sinclair.

 Sugarloaf, behind where we parked.

 A FINE Day.

Another Shot of Sugarloaf

Lunch at the lake

Wasn't that the Loch Ness Monster I just saw.

Is there life on Mars.
 Idiots in the mointains

This is the real top.

Hey, Theres the lake.

 Almost got to see something.

Looking down on the lake after the cloud briefly lifted on our way down.

Coming back down below the clouds.

Note: Of course the clouds did lift a bit on the way home, but not off Sinclair.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fat Freddy's Drop - DR Boondigga & The Big BW (New Zealand 2009)

And Yet Another Recent Acquisition
(for my last Birthday)

The incomparably fantastic Fat Freddy's Drop released this, their third album late last year to, I suspect, much anticipation here in NZ. Another awesome dose of the Fat's downtempo, jazzy, funky  electronic Roots Music. I haven 't listened to this nearly as much as I should, but this is an essentuial purchase  for any NZ Electronic/Dub/Reggae music fan, My Rating 4.5/5

Shapeshifter - The System Is A Vampire (New Zealand 2009)

More Recent Purchases

Another exellent Christchurch group having recently realeased this, their 5th album and another group proving wrong my previous statement about New Zealand Bands only being able to put out one or two good albums.
Shapeshifter play pop orientated Drum & Base. They are a band, they have a singer and a horn player among other musicians and they have a DRUMMER. I have seen them live on a couple of occasions and boy does he work hard. Live, these guys are unbeleivable, but they have previously not transferred that energy to disc and although I have enjoyed those albums, I was always a little disappointed. The System Is A Vampire still may not be as good as their live gigs but for Me it is their most satisfying effort to date. This realease again proves how good and how resiliant the NZ  Roots/Reggae/Electronic scene is. My Rating 4/5.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Salmonella Dub - Freak Controller (New Zealand 2009)

And Another Roddus Cd Purchase

 This Album Came as a plesant Surprise because I have two exellent earlier albums by this band from my hometown of Christchurch, and NZ bands are notourious for releasing one or two very good albums and then either disbanding or going to the dogs musically. They now have several albums out, but not sure exactly how many proper ones, what with all the remixes and stuff and they are still on top of their game. A real mix of stuff here with more drum & bass mixed in with the usuial Dub/Roots/Reggae that they play so well. Also a great album for relaxing in the summer sun with friends and family. Very cool. My Rating 4/5.

Neil Young - Dreamin' Man Live '92 (Canada 2009)

Another Recent CD Purchase

So this recent score is another of the exellent Neil Young Preformance Archive Series. This stunning CD is culled from a series of live acoustic sets Neil played before the release of the Harvest Moon album back in 1992 and is actually all the songs off the aforementioned album. Although I do own a copy of harvest moon and it is a very good album, I haven't really listened to it very much over the years, but  I am familiar enough with some of the tracks to instantly recognise them here. This is Neil at his Stripped down Best, just acoustic guitar, harmoniker and a bit of piano. This Cd is in HDCD, and I don't have a HDCD player on my Cyrus, but the sound is incredable, just captures you and transports you back to the venue with him. My rating 5/5.

Wolfmother Cosmic Egg (Australia 2009)

My Latest Cd Purchases
It's been a very busy time latley and I haven't found much time to get serious about reviewing more albums, so I just wanted to make a quick mention of some of the great albums I have recently purchased and the first one being this second album by the aussie rock band Wolfmother, released late in 2009. this album is a very very good classic Rock/Hard Rock.. There is not much to say to describe this music but that it is very good modern hard rock, commercial, well recorded and most enjoyable. I haven't really noticed any real stand out tracks, but the overall content is of a very high standard and I highly recommend this album. My rating 4/5.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mount Alexander 13-14th March 2010

Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary:Tramp No.87
Mount Alexander 13-14th March 2010

Here is my report of my latest exciting adventure in the mountains of the South Island of New Zealand. This was another trip run by the Christchurch Tramping Club and I jumped at the chance to do this one as it was on my list to do because it is one of the trips written up in Nick Groves "South Island Weekend Tramps" and all the tramps I have done in that book have been real fab. The last trip to Mt Owen is also in that book.
Mt Alaxander is a very rocky peak of 1958m over looking the Taramakau River near Atkins corner on the West Coast. The forcast was for southwesterly winds about the tops, so it was looking good to go, as southwest usually means clear on the west coast. We tackeled the mountain from the norwest side, starting up the track beside Camp Creek just off the Lake Brunner Road. We left about 10:30am on the Saturday and headed up the gentle incline on the true right of Camp Creek. The first 2 hours of this walk is through lovely west coast forrest, with plenty of Punga ferns amongst a large variety of small trees and shrubs and the occasional large beech tree. Some rock hopping is also encountered up creek beds and a sidle above Camp Creek before dropping back down to cross the creek just below Camp Creek Hut.
After we leaft Camp Creek hut, we cross a small stream and then start on a very steep 650m climb up to the bush line. The forrest here was just awesome, quite diffrent than what we had encountered earlier and as we got higher the trees got smaller and much more twisted and warped. The track was covered, in places by a fine red carpet of Rata needles. As we got past the tree line and into the scrub the track steepened and although it was easy enough to follow, it was a bit overgrown, but this was good because we had to use the plants to help pull us up as we climbed. At around 1300m the track turns into a poled route through the tussock and grass and the many rock formations present. The tops were, at this time, covered in a light mist, so visablilty was limited as we tried to find out way to point 1328, where we camped for the night at the end of the tarns. A feast was had that night as some of the blokes had brought desert, and one totally dedicated young fella wipped half a bottle of cream with a small wisk, to have with the strawberrys and chocolate mousse, and seeing as they had more than they could eat, I bravely offered my assistance to help consume what they couldn't. After dinner and clean up, the fog rolled in and the tempreture dropped sharply and so, even though it was still daylight, an early night was had, especially as Sunday was to be a quite long day.
Sunday morning dawned fine and clear as predicted, the wind stayed light and so it was looking like a promising day. The idea someone had of breaking camp by 7:00am went out the window as most of us didn't rise till nearly 7 or just after and so it wasn't untill about 8:30 that we finally left the tarn and headed up the hill on the way to the summit of Mt Alexander. After meandering through the rocky tops for about half an hour, we reconnected with the poled route, and lightened our packs of our tents, sleeping gear and other unnessary items, before heading on up to point 1795. The travel along the top between point 1795 and Mt Alexander itself was quite a challange. It involved much rock hopping, some rock climbing and scrambling as well as a few nerves. Much of this part of the mountain was shattered shist and much of the rock resembled petrified trees to me. We made the Summit just after lunch and had a leasurely lunch amongst the rocks with the magnificent views all around us.
All that was left now was to scramble back the way we came and then desend the killer ridge we came up  and back to the cars,which we did in about 5 hours. all up the day took about 9 hours.
A truly Magnificent trip and another must do for any local trampers.
The gentle start of the track.

A bit of bolder hopping, but we never had to get wet feet the entire weekend.

Camp Creek

Me by a side stream

Some plants

More rock hopping

This is where we cross Camp Creek before going up to the hut

Glad I'm not the milkman on this side of the island

Camp Creek Hut

We were tempted to stay here.

One of the coolest huts I have seen

The forrest changes quite dramatically after the hut

The carpet of rata needles

And the twisted trees

The steep ridge we climbed above the tree line

The poled route

Nearing the tops

Our destination for the night

Tarn camp

The next day looking back at our camp site

Looking back towards our camp before we head up to point 1795

Asending point 1795

Point 1795

Mt Alaxander, our destination.

Looking down to crooked river

The Shatteres shist rocks along the ridge.

Still a way to go but fun to be had.

looking back to point 1795.

My god, did i just walk along that

Me at the the top of the world.

A lunch break before heading back down.

Our friend the Weka.