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Monday, February 27, 2012

Willard Grant Conspiracy - Regard the End (USA 2003)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review.

Been listening to plenty of my Uncut CD compilations both at home and on the ipod at work and thought that I might check out some of the artists that The Uncut Magazine had introduced me to over the years. Many of these records haven't had much attention lately or in many instances, none at all. I went to the very earliest Uncut CD I have, "Sounds of the new West" from 1998 and looked at the list of artists included on this set and found I had recordings by 10 out of 20 of the artists included. This album is the first one I listened too.
I have been going back to this album frequently over the last few days and am finding it an addictive set of well crafted and recorded Americana. The ...Conspiracy were well liked by Uncut and well represented  on 13 of the compilations I have, and yet this is the first time I have really had a decent listen. I am very surprised that I didn't even have "Soft Hand" on my massive Uncut sampler, as it is a classic piece of  Alt-Pop. The album has an acoustic feel to it and Robert Fisher sings some great duets with some female singers, one being Kristin Hersh. The lyrics go to some darker places and the music has a melancholic feel in places, which appears to be standard for this type of music and not a bad thing. A consistent effort and stays interesting throughout. Thoroughly recommended for any Americana fan and gets a Roddus Rating of 4.5/5.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Turtons Saddle - Comyns Hut - Clent Hills Saddle - Lake Heron - 18-19th February 2012

Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary:Tramp No.115
Turtons Saddle - Comyns Hut - Clent Hills Saddle - Lake Heron - 18-19th February 2012

I nearly didn't go on this trip as I had already been out the previous two weekends but when I realised that Comyns hut was profiled in Mark Pickering's "Huts: Untold Stories from Back Country New Zealand", a copy of which Mrs. Roddus gave me for Christmas, then I thought I should go.

First a little history. According to Mark Pickering's book, Alfred Comyns Jnr. arrived in New Zealand from Hertfordshire, on the Lancashire Witch, after a three month journey, during which he lost his younger brother and mother to scarlet fever, arriving in Lyttelton in October 1863. During the early 1880's Comyns was possibly the first European to travel over Mathias Pass. In 1897 Comyns apparently managed the impressive feat of herding 2000 sheep over Mathais Pass into the head of the Hokitika River only to have all die by freezing and starvation. The original hut that bears Comyns Name was constructed as a Musterers hut some time between 1895 and 1899, while Comyns was Manager of  Double Hill Station. The Hut is now situated on DOC Conservation Estate.
 On a spectacular summers day, our group of 4 trampers left the car at Double Hill Run road and proceeded to wander up Glenrock Stream on an easy vehicle track, cooking in the heat and enjoying the views of the Rakia and Wilberforce rivers and Mt Oakden as we climbed Turtons Saddle. The cool breeze helped cool us down as we had a bite to eat on the saddle before heading down to A Frame hut further down Turtons Stream. The heat of the day put pay to any over enthusiasm of serious notions of climbing any serious peaks on this seriously warm day, but our leader suggested we trundle on up to point 1305, just above Comyns Hut to take in the great views of this barren and mountainous landscape. From point 1305 we got great views of our route the next day over Clent Hills Saddle and even managed to spot the crossover party coming down the river some 400m below us, which spurred a race for the hut before they got there and scored all the best bunks. Arriving at the huts first we had to wait another 30 odd minutes for the other party to arrive. The actual hut we stayed in was built next to the original in 1957 by the owner of Double Hill Station and is a really cool hut indeed, although it's outward appearance wouldn't suggest as much. 
 On Sunday Morning, after our leader grilled the leader of the crossover party as to the exact location of our car at Lake heron, we managed to get away at the reasonably early time of 8am in anticipation of a longish day, with 21km to travel and a saddle at 1480m to cross. The day was much cooler with low cloud perched snugly on the tops of the mountains obscuring much of the views. We headed up Round Hill creek crossing the stream over 50 times, following the marker poles, as this whole trip is part of the new Te Araroa trail. We made Clent Hills Saddle in the surprising time of 3 hours, it being easier than it looked from our viewpoint the day before. We didn't stay long as the visibility was pretty low and it was also quite cold. Travel slowed down slightly as we sidled around long stretches of scree and tussok and with the long spacing of the route markers, had some difficulty spotting them in the fog. Still we made good time and neared the bottom in about 6 hours before running into a maze of Spaniards that the other party warned us about, but we still had difficulty getting through them. Once down on the barren flats of Lake Heron it was a 6KM slog back to the car which we attained in the surprising time of 7.75 hours.

This time Uncle Roddus didn't leave his camera in the car, he did even better this time, leaving the bloody thing at home in the office. Thanks to Richard for these photos, hence so many with Uncle Roddus actually in them.

Off we head on a perfect day.

An interesting rock formation.

About to cross into the DOC estate

Lunch at the saddle with the excellent views of Rakia in the foreground, Wilberforce in the background and Mt Oakden to the right.

Looking down Turtons Stream from below the saddle. Not a tree to been seen.

A nice Saturday stroll.

Uncle Roddus near point 1305.

Uncle Roddus examining the route we will take tomorrow, Clent Hills Saddle top right of photo.

Off down to the huts.

The huts

The Newer Comyns Hut

The Original Comyns Hut

One of Sundays many river crossings.

Nearing Clent Hills Saddle

Scrog Stop.

The stunning views on Clent Hills Saddle.

Where is the next marker pole?

Uncle roddus had a friendly chat with a Spaniard.

leaving Mellish Stream

Almost back at the car, almost.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Waimakariri Fall Hut and Waimakriri Col 11-12th February 2012

Uncle Roddus Tramping diary: Tramp No. 114
Waimakariri Fall Hut and Waimakriri Col 11-12th February 2012

 The Waimakariri Falls Hut and the Waimakariri Col is a classic Arthurs Pass trip and quite probably the best located hut in the whole National park. I first went to the Hut back in late 2009 with the Christchurch Tramping Club, when there was still quite a bit of snow in the Col, but we didn't do the crossover trip. When the club newsletter made me aware that they were running another trip up there and this time were going to cross over, I decided to go and finish what we didn't do last time.
 After the first day travelling up to the Waimak fall hut, the Club newsletter mentioned the possibilities of either heading over the Waimak Col and down into the Rolleston River and back out to the road or the other option of  out over Mt Philistine. The trip leader had read a description of the Philistine traverse on and said that this was the route we would attempt on Sunday.
 Five hardy trampers assembled at Klondyke Corner, for a weekend of all Male bonding, after negotiating our way through the hoards of tents and vehicles there for the annual Coast To Coast race. After doing the car shuffle, leaving one car at the Otira river car park, the group set off for the long slog up the Waimak River just on 10am on a warm and partly cloudy morning. Apart from meandering off track while travelling up river to the Carrington hut, we arrived safely at the Carrington Hotel in the 4 hours usually expected. 
From Carrington we crossed the very low White river and followed a pleasant track heading up the true right of the upper Waimak River, leaving the bush after about an hour to be confronted with the magnificent sight of the beautiful Waimak valley and Carrington Peak. Second lunch was consumed just past Campbell creek in warm, pleasant conditions before a bolder hop along the last stretch before the climb above Waimak Falls itself.
 The Track climbing above the Falls is through thick low scrub, which had been well cut back since this scribes last visit. The views just kept getting better and better as we ascended the last part up to the Waimak Fall Hut, with Clive spotting a Rock Wren just below the hut and Uncle Roddus managing to get a photo of it.
 The Wainakariri Falls hut is a wonderful little six bunk hut perched on the top of another waterfall, with magnificent views of the Col itself , Mt Murchison to the South East and surrounded by Carrington Peak 2010m, Mt Rolleston 2275m, Mt Lancelot 2112m, and Mt Armstrong 2110m.The hut is owned by the Canterbury Mountaineering Club, was put there in 1963 and contrary to DOC fears still hasn't succumbed to an avalanche. When we arrived, after an 8 hour hour day, we found a crew of three, building a new toilet near the hut, after the old one was apparently blown away some years back. The hut also has had a new double glazed window installed and solar lighting since this scribes last visit.
 After setting up tents and donning warm cloths, as the light wind had a bit of a bite to it, and while we were making dinner, the familiar sound of squawking Kea's reached our ears and as we searched the sky in the direction of the sound, a gang of nine feathery bundles of trouble landed on the large rock near where the new dunny was being erected. Some evening entertainment was had watching the this gang attempting to carry off several pieces of building supplies and hoping they would leave our tents and packs alone while we slept. We suggested to the builders that the toilet would be deconstructed overnight and re erected on the rocks above the hut by the morning if they weren't lucky.
 Sunday dawned warm but overcast and without any trouble from the Gang. The leader suggested a 7:30am start, but was still asleep at 7:15am when this scribe woke him and his tent partner up. We left camp at about 8:15 and headed for the Waimak Col , rock hopping up to where the river flows through the ravine before we climbed up the bluff on the true right of the river to take us just above the bowl below the Col. After arriving at the Col, we checked the route down and found that it was a bit too difficult to drop straight down to the Rolleston River as it was quite bluffy and not at all possible to sidle round to the Philistine ridge. The only way up to the Philistine ridge that we could see( and matching the description in my route guide) was up a long and steep shingle slide which would take us up to point 1860. But the shingle looked pretty loose and climbing up that didn't appeal. After much discussion as to alternatives, we decided to go the usual route down the Rolleston River back to Otria, unfortunately bringing us out quite some way from the car.
 From the Col, we traversed Northwest just below point 1845 before dropping down to the gully below the Armstrong Glacier. This gully easily took us down to the Rolleston River. There is no track, poles and very few cairns on this route but we did have a copy of the DOC route guide which said to keep high above the true left of the Rolleston and sidle along across the tussock and steep screes. Not the easiest of travels, but it kept us out of trouble. Uncle Roddus had got a wee way ahead of the group about half way down this section and had stopped to see if he could spy any signs if a track or makers to indicate how high to stay along this slope, when he saw a couple of trampers approaching lower down. When they saw him, they stopped and Uncle Roddus assumed that they must be following a route he couldn't see and so made his way down to intersect them. After a short scramble he reached them, where upon one of the trampers said, I hope you didn't think we knew where we were going". It transpired that they were heading up stream to see if they could find an easier way down into the river bed before travelling back down stream, after giving up going to their destination of Lake Florence. Uncle Roddus informed them that according to information in our possession it was advised not to drop down into the river around this area. The three then spotted a cairn above them and climbed up to wait for the others to catch up. When the rest of our group arrived and after consulting our information the two trampers headed off back the way they came after offering a lift back to our car at the Otria car park.
 Afternoon tea was consumed before heading off again, with Uncle Roddus again leaving the others behind(a most unusual situation), for more sidling along this slope before dropping down a scree just before the bush covered bluffs and climbing down a scrub covered knob just before a gut into the Rolleston river. Here Uncle Roddus caught up with the other two trampers who were directing him where to climb down and they waited for the rest of the group to descend. When the others arrived, the two trampers with the car at the end of our route again offered a lift back to our car and so Uncle Roddus(for it was his car at Otira) left with them while the others rested amongst the rocks.
 From this point it was a short rock hop down stream to the track marker on the true right of the river. The track winds through some lovely forest with some great examples of Rata and doesn't climb too much. The track ends at a stream bed with a bolder hop back down to the Rolleston before the final couple of KMs rock hopping down stream to the rail bridge. These two guys were moving pretty fast and poor Uncle Roddus was pushed top keep up with his weekend pack, but stick with them he did and actually made it out nearly an hour before the rest of the party and so had plenty of time to get the car, eat, change and rest before they arrived. A challenging route but most enjoyable and a good bit of luck meeting the other two and avoiding having to hitch hike back to the car.

Near the confluence of the White and Waimak Rivers, Carrington Peak in the background.

Half way up the final stretch of the waimak, Carrington Peak dominating.

Upper Waimak.

Nearing Waimak Falls.

looking Back down the Waimak Valley from near Waimak Falls. Mt Campbell in the background.

Arriving at the hut, the construction of the new toilet.

Waimak Col center distant. Last time I was here 80% of this area was covered with snow.

Camping out.

Kea Party.

Most Kea's I have seen in one place. There were nine all up.


Uncle Roddus at the hut.

Uncle Roddus above the upper falls.



Heading up to the Col, looking back to the hut.

There was a bit of rock around.

More rock scrambling.

The boys on the Col. All the route descriptions mention the permanent snow on the col, but as you can see there ain't much there this year.

Looking down the Rolleston from the Col.

Uncle Roddus on the Col.

Scrambling down into the Rolleston River.

Looking back towards the Waimak Col from Rolleston River.

looking down Rolleston.

The Rocky Rolleston.

The bush track lower down the Rolleston River.

Nearly there.