Blog Roddus

Blog Roddus
My Favorite Place

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.

No comments: