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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hunts Creek Hut and Mt Barron - 31st March-1st April 2012

Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary:Tramp No 117
Hunts Creek Hut and Mt Barron 31 March-1 April 2012

This weekend I was supposed to go to Barker hut with The CTC but that trip got postponed due to lack of numbers. I was keen to do a weekender as I was all set up ready to go and wondering what to do. While looking at my map software I spotted Hunts Creek Hut and remembered it was a destination that I had wanted to get to and this was a perfect opportunity. The forecast was very favourable and I also saw that the club was running a trip to Mt Barron on Sunday and I thought I would hop up from the hunts creek side and see if I ran into them. I rang a couple of people to see if they wanted to come along, but at short notice, although both were keen, they already had plans they couldn't get out of. So I went by myself.
 I left home soon after 7am on Saturday and headed off, looking forward to an exciting trip. I picked up a young couple hitch-hiking just near Arthurs Pass and it turned out they were going to tramp/run the Minga/Deception route in a day, starting at the Deception end. I dropped them at the bridge and headed off before realising that I has already passed the Kelly Shelter turnoff. After returning to Kelly's Creek I saw why I had passed it, there was a large pile of shingle where the access road is and I didn't recognise it. I had to drive over the shingle to get to the access road.
 I headed off up Kellys creek at 9:30am on a warm and mostly clear day and soon noticed that a major flood had been down this creek in the recent past and huge amounts of shingle had been brought down with it. The track was washed out in several places and I kept finding myself back in the river bed very quickly. There are enough markers to make finding what was left of the track in this section reasonably easy, but I had to stay alert. Once further up stream, past the worst of the flood damage I got on to the track and this time stayed on it, the travel was easier now and I found myself at the saddle just before midday. I had lunch in the clearing near the saddle before heading on through a short section of boggy ground and high rushes, which I was glad were dry, thus allowing me to stay dry. I soon re-entered the bush with things being a lot more gnarly now and the track more like what I have come expect on the West Coast. After another section of rushes nearly as tall as myself, I arrived at the Hunts Creek Hut in a time of 4 hours and 20 minutes. (Continued after photos).

You think it could have found a better place to grow.

So I'm guessing these trees didn't use to be growing in a shingle bed.

A probable source of some of the shingle.

I suspect that this part of Kellys creek is a bit more open than it use to be.

Shingle Terraces again, I suspect, caused by the flooding.

Finally get onto a track.

Nearing the saddle.

Re entering the bush in Hunts Creek.

A love embrace.

looking down Hunts Creek from a scree the track crosses.

Looking up Hunts with the Hut clearing about the middle of the picture.

My first view of Hunts Creek Hut.

The Hut from the nearby rocks and camping spot.

Uncle Roddus at the hut.

Useful thing delay timers.

Check out the funny little fire box.
No one else was at the hut when I arrived and it was to stay that way for my visit. After checking out the hut and surrounding environs, unpacking my bedding and having a cuppa, I checked the time and seeing it was only 3pm, decided to head up valley for a look. Crossing the rather high grasses(fortunately dry) to the other side of the clearing to the marker, before a short track takes us to an area of largish rocks where a nice rock hop following plenty of cairns took me to the top of the moraine. From here I got a better view of the upper valley and then decided to do a short climb up the nearest low ridge in the Hunts range. After enjoying the views I decided I probably didn't have enough time to bag the nearest peak and get back to the hut before dark so headed back down and back to the still empty hut. After an excellent stir-fry dinner, an early night was had listening to a possum scratching round on the roof before drifting off. (Continues below)

The view from the hut of the route the track takes up the near slope.

Looking back towards the hut after rock hopping to the top of the moraine.

The low ridge I decided to climb.

Another shot up Hunts Creek.

Looking down on Hunts Creek and across to the Barron range.

Looking down stream at the Hut clearing. On Sunday I am suppose to climb up  that long shingle slide to access Mt Barron.

Sunday dawns to another great day and I am up fairly early because my ageing bladder won't let me sleep in any longer. I wonder what the time is as early this morning daylight savings ended. I finally figure out its about 6:30am and so I breakfast, pack and clean the hut and I'm off at 7:50am for what turns out to be a fairly epic day. After viewing the range from my higher view point the afternoon before, I decided to forgo the recommended route up the long shingle slide and instead to head up from the top of the moraine wall, where I was yesterday, then head up a gut onto a flat area and then sidle across the shingle heading back towards the top of the aforementioned shingle slide(for an approximation of my route see map above). After a bit of scrub bashing and rock hopping, I achieved my first objective and stopped for a bite to eat and enjoyed the views, the warmth of the morning sun and the beautiful silence of altitude with no wind. Next I climbed over the ridge to take me to the area where I was to sidle along below the tops, but when I got over I saw a route to the tops just below point 1776 and thought I might check it out and see if  I could head around the other side or along the tops from there, if not it wasn't far to drop back and do what I originally intended. After cresting this ridge I was presented with stunning views of the back of Mt Rolleston, Philistine, Waimak Col and the Rolleston river(where I had been some weeks earlier). I discovered that I was able to sidle round the eastern side of the tops with caution as it was fairly rocky and I was soon up on the ridge heading towards point 1760, which I though at the time was Barron itself. As I was carefully negotiating a rather rocky route(almost as, if not more, difficult as the Aicken-Blimit route we did three weeks earlier) I was relieved to see a footprint in some clay and knew I wasn't the only adventurous soul to travel this route(although I'm not keen to do this sort of thing alone again). I made point 1760 just on 12pm and was wondering where the CTC group, who I knew were suppose to be coming up here today, were. I had lunch and spotted Barron itself to the north-east, took some photos of the wonderful vistas before me and then set off to conquer Barron.
 The travel between 1760 and Barron peak was a lot easier and I covered the ground a lot quicker than I had been except when things got a bit more difficult again near Barron and the ascent onto Barron itself involved a bit of free-form rock climbing(not for the first time today). A short stay at the top, as there is still no sign of the CTC group and then had to carefully find my way down off this steep peak before sidling round to a gap in the ridge and low and behold I spot a group of trampers down in the basin below me. I scramble down the rock scree and meet most of them as they come up, the rest of the group are up on the ridge, which I thought looked a bit difficult, but was obviously doable. After a quick chat I headed off down the way they had come, aiming to sidle round below the ridge and point 1629, but I dropped down too far, as I was feeling too lazy to climb back up at this stage and ended up running into some difficult rocks below point 1359. I had bloody good views of Otira, so I had to climb up a very steep slope to regain the tops where I should have been. Around 3pm I stopped to refuel just below point 1359 before continuing down the ridge to point 1019. Now on the Remote Huts Westland web site, the route from here down to Kellys track is described as quote: " A short scrub-bash... to get from the open tussock at 900m into more open montane forest below. It is a standard bush-bash from here the rest of the way down. The odd old blaze can be found on the ridge around point 615m. The last bit down to the car park is probably the worst on the route, due to dense stands of regenerating hardwoods".
 I must have somehow completely missed something. The short scrub bash was short and difficult as it was tall and thick and after I bashed my way through hoping for the more "open montane forest" I instead found quite thick bush and things didn't get any better at any time all the way down. I spent the next two hours fighting my way through thick undergrowth of smaller trees intertwined with plenty of bush lawyer, stumbling over wind falls, falling through rotting trees, sliding down sharp drops, not often being able to see if there was any solid ground on which to put my feet. I eventually found myself at the top of a very long drop and so headed to my right and soon found myself climbing up onto point 615, where things did open up slightly and I found myself following what appeared to be a faint trail. I seemed to climb for longer than I thought I would and soon I lost the trail all together. Not sure exactly where to drop down I finally spotted the river below and had to climb down a rather steep and dense part before practicably tumbling out of the bush into Kellys Creek about 200M  upstream from the car. Scratched in many places several tears in my clothing and rather dirty, I stumbled the last few meters to the car very much relieved I made it down safely and wondering what I had missed. A rather risky route to take, especially on my own and just  lucky I am almost indestructible after some of the tumbles  I took coming down. Don't do this at home kids. Got to the car just on 5:30pm, just under 9.75 hours. Not a trip I will forget in a hurry.

This is where I headed up on to the Barron Range.

Looking across to the Hunts Range and the low spur I climbed the previous day. Note the interesting build up of boulders below sort of like a boulder glacier.

A view from my first rest stop.

After cresting the ridge I spotted the route to the tops, small gap about center of  photo.

Looking along the route I was originally going to travel. I got better views the other way.


Looking along the tops to point 1760

Looking at Barron from point 1760.

Barron point, not the easiest of ascents, involved some rock climbing.

About to drop off Barron and then pop over that ridge into the bowl below where I met the CTC group, some of them did do the rocky ridge in the middle of this picture.

The CTC group heading up to the gap I just came from.

I headed below that knob in the distance when I should have gone over it or headed back onto the ridge earlier.

Looking down on Otira.

Not quite where I want to be.

The ridge I head down towards Kellys Creek.

The Otira River

The upper part of the bush bash.

A rather battered Uncle Roddus finally at the car.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an eventful tramp!
Apologies for making you miss the turn off but we were both very thankful for the lift to the bottom of the Deception valley.
We had a beautiful day for it, and scrambled our way up Deception and ran back down the Mingha in around 6 hours. Not the fastest time through the coast to coast mountain run and something we will do faster when competing but we did stop alot to soak up the sun and the scenery and had fun laughing at each other in our 35 river crossings in a suprisingly high water level!
Thanks again for the lift and great to meet someone else so in love with the mountains, happy tramping.
Mike & Hannah

Roddus said...

Hey thanks for stopping by the blog, and it was no problem to give fellow trampers a lift, I need it my self some times.

I missed kellys creek because i didn't recognise the track in as a result of recent flooding since my last visit. Any how it wasn't very far past to the bridge.

Anonymous said...

Great story...when I hear the word 'epic' my ears always prick up!

Excellent photos, keep up the good work

Roddus said...

Thanks Anon.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite tramps. You are more adventurous than me.Many years ago I walked from Carol hut along the Kelly range then dropped down onto Hunts Saddle. A bit of bush bashing at first but then landed on Tree clad ridge and it was a breeze down to Hunts saddle.Then onto Hunts Hut. I have been back 30 yrs later and walked the river track you took to Hunts hut. I was pushing it as winter was around the corner. Needless to say the billy water was rock solid in the morn and same with my boots.Nothing beats bushing your self to the extreme.Great pics. Have to get fit again and get back in there.

Roddus said...

A bit adventurous, but I don't think I'll try that sort of trip again alone, too risky if something goes wrong, and it could have easily on that bush bash back to kellys creek.

That route from Carol hut and kelly tops has been trimmed recently by a friend of mine so I might have to do that one too some time.

Honora said...

Good effort! Enjoyed your descriptions and photos. I went along that ridge with the CTC from 1760 to 1776 a couple of years ago. I hope Mrs Roddus doesn't read your blog - she might not let you off the leash

Roddus said...

Hi Honora, The ridge travel was Ok, but I'll keep quiet about my epic bush bash ;) Actually she was a bit apprehensive about me going alone, especially after Bryce W falling off Rakia spurs a few weeks ago and I might have to hide that obituary on the front page of the latest CTC newsletter as well.

Anonymous said...

No don't give up on the tramping by your self,just stay in your comfort zone. I have been walking for many years by my self and just enjoy the solitude.I have had another look at your pics they are great. The out doors are fantastic here in NZ.Might catch you in the bush some trip. Take care Brian

Roddus said...

Hi Brian, thanks for the comments.

I only occasionally tramp alone as I enjoy the company and social aspect of being with a small group and have meet some good people I enjoy tramping with in the CTC and some other friends I occasionally do trips with. I do enjoy the occasional solo outing but is is usually because everyone else is busy. I was never really out of my comfort zone on this trip, but some of the terrain I covered was risky and I think I should stick to groups tramps on that sort of terrain.
Happy Tramping.