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Monday, February 18, 2013

Pell Stream Hut - 16-17th February 2013

Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary:Tramp No 132
Pell Stream Hut - 16-17th February 2013

Pell Stream Hut is a fairly remote hut about half way up Pell Stream north of Mt Mueller and the Freyberg Range near Lewis Pass. A friend had suggested a trip into this hut some time back but time and other trips intervened to postpone the trip till now. 
This latest Epic started with Brendan and I departing my car at Marble Hill car park on a warm and pleasant Saturday morning and ambling the 3 km or so up the Mauria  river to try and find the route up to the Mueller tops. Just as we were about to cross the river to start looking for the track entrance, we spotted a cairn on the opposite bank and went to investigate, discovering that this indeed was the start of the track we intended to use to get us up the hill. Without this cairn the track would have been rather difficult to find. The track itself, which is marked on older maps, but not the newer ones, is non maintained and our early experience of tree fall and loosing the track several times within the first few hundred meters started to make it look like it was going to be a difficult trip to the bushline. Things didn't get much better as we got to the creek crossing. The creek had been gutted by the recent floods and was rank with logjams as we struggled to pick up where the track continued on the opposite side. After finally finding the track again things improved markedly as the track climbed steeply  up the ridge. This old track, from here on, was well marked with permolat and the track itself was still well formed and not overgrown. We stopped for elevenses at about 1100M  and made the bushline about 1:30PM and had lunch. We then started along the tops towards Mt Mueller. The going was slightly slower than I anticipated due to the long grasses and small shrubs in places but there is a quite well defined animal trail on the very top of the ridge. We summited  Mt Mueller around 3PM by which time clouds had settled on the tops obliterating our views and resulting in much more concentration with our navigating. The route round to point 1650 involved some rock scrambling, several short climbs and careful consideration as to our position after each point we crossed, skirting round some of the rockier points to save time. This section took us about another 3 hours and it was shortly after 6PM that we started our descent from point 1650 with low visibility, but after careful study of map and taking compass bearing. We gained the exact ridge I had decided to use for our descent, but had we better visibility higher up I would have chosen the next ridge to our west, which did look the better route to us as we struggled down a particularly steep section of dense scrub just before we hit the bushline. Once in the forest things got  much easier as we were in one of those fairly open beech forests with plenty of dead and rotting trees to wrongly grab onto as you plummet downwards. This section looked reasonably short from above the tree-line but seemed to go on forever as we kept heading down and down and down for about 600M until we finally hit the lower section and the creek we intended to follow out to Pell Stream and the Hut we knew to be 100 odd meters down stream from where the creek came out. We were greatly relieved to find the hut right where it should be, proving my navigating to be successful and the hut only slightly above the recent flood level that had chocked this part of Pell stream with logjams. We made the hut at 8:30pm after a 10 and 1/2 hour day. A pleasant warm night was had at the hut, which gets very few visitors each year, as we prepared dinner and snuggled down into unconsciousness around 10:30pm.
Slept in till 8am on a beautiful Sunday morning and left the hut by 9am for the trip down Pell Stream back to Marble Hill. After negotiating the logjams and slips and admiring the level of the recent floods that had wrecked havoc with the area, we found the track that was to take us above the first gorgy part of the river but I thought this was just one  of the flood routes and so we continued heading downstream in the river bed until it got too tricky to continue and I realised my mistake. Not to worry, we would just climb up through the bush until we hit the track. This was easier said than done as it started ok for a while but we ran into some quite thick undergrowth and some windfall that was a pain. While climbing over one particular horizontal tree with lots of other scrubby plants around it, I thought I touched some unseen stinging nettle but couldn't spot it, I warned Brendan, who was by this time climbing over the same tree, when he got attacked by wasps. We high-tailed it out of there as fast as we could considering where we were and managed to escape the nasties. Brendan got hit about 5 times. We eventually found the track, but  not before another short encounter with more wasps, where Brendan got another couple of stings. The track was easy to follow and in good condition and we were soon back in the river bed rock hopping down stream. We reached Gilchrist Stream about 11:45am and decided to have lunch. From there we were suppose to get onto the track that would take us over the last gorgy part of the river and onto the 4WD track which went back to Marble Hill, but amongst the logjam and scrub in the confluence of Gilchrist Stream we could find no track or markers or indicators to point us in the right direction. I was wondering if maybe this wasn't Gilchrist at all but perhaps another of those streams that some times don't appear on the maps, but that did seem unlikely for a quite major stream. We decided to carry on down stream and fortunately we came across a couple of blokes gold panning about halfway between Gilchrist and the next stream. The told us that the track from Gilchrist actually started about 150m upstream in Gilchrist creek but if we followed their route up from their camp we would find the track about 100m above. We followed their route for about 30M before loosing track of it and so continued with our second bush bash of the day. We found the track easy enough and followed this easy track back out to the 4WD track  which got us back to my car about 2:45pm.

The track up the hill.

View of Marble Hill from the bushline

Brendan emerging from the trees

Mt Mueller
And the clouds roll in.

Uncle Roddus on Muellwr

Visability greatly reduced.

Scrambling round the rocks.

looking down into Pell Stream

One very knackered Uncle Roddus at Pelkl Stream hut


The river gorging out forcing us to bush bash back onto the track above.

Siamese trees.

Pell Stream.


Honora said...

Wow, one tough trip. Congratulations on your navigating. Hope you thought the trip was worth it. Feel for Brendon, though!

Roddus said...

Its is a nice hut and Pell stream is very pretty and I'm glad we did it, probably not somewhere I go back to though.

Brendan was challenged to the edge of his comfort zone on a couple of occasions and apart from the wasps, he loved it.