I had had this tramp in mind for a while so I was quite excited when the day finally came to try out this epic day adventure in Black Range. 4 brave CTC souls, the ideal number for a car load, started off at Bealey Spur Hut car park at around 8.30 am. We made our way up to Bealey Hut in about 2 hours and after a short break, off we went to pt1545. Until then, the track had been easy to follow and mostly grassy, but along Hut Spur to pt1907, the track is along a sharp rocky ridge where some care needs to be taken negotiating some sections.
From pt1907, there is a wee scree run to the saddle close to pt1750 where a tarn can be found. The tarn is surprisingly big considering it isn’t on the NZ Topo Map. Byron visited the tarn to get some water and the rest of us went up to pt1737 where we regrouped. We continued along the spur and at around the 1500 contour we dropped down on our TR to find an opening in the bush where there is a scree slope that you can take to get to Bruce Stream. The scree turned out to be quite steep and full of hidden rocks and I suspect that there is a better scree option about 500m back somewhere close to a stream on the 1510 contour.
On the scree that we took, I got hit by a dislodged rock the size of a soccer ball. The rock fell so quickly that even though I had seen it when it was about 10 meters from me, I had only a split second to react and it hit me on my lower calf. Initially it hurt like hell but the pain wore off after putting my leg in the river and taking some painkillers. I was worried that my ankle might be broken but we agreed that I was very lucky as it was only all bloody and bruised. The rock had ripped through my gaiter so if I hadn’t been wearing it, it would have been much worse. I made sure that my leg was in the water for the rest of the day to stop it from getting swollen.
The route along Bruce stream was great fun. There are some other reports mentioning some impassable sections where alternative routes in the steep slopes need to be found. However, we didn’t encounter these sections and stayed in the river bed for the whole time. I suspect that the previous parties had higher water levels than we had. There was a point where the river level reached almost up my chest for a second or two but that was it. With some care, a lot of boulder hopping and some good route finding skills ,it’s possible to stay in the river bed the whole time (providing that the water level is low of course). I think that we all found this section the most entertaining.
After the trickiest section, about 2 km from the car park, the valley opens up and from there it’s just an easy stroll along the river. I think that quite an interesting variation of this could be to drop down to Junction Stream from the tarn – just to spend more time in the fun river! It was a great tramp, thanks everyone for coming. I’ll see you next time!
Participants: Michal Klajban (leader, scribe, photos), Nat Flynn, Natasha Sydorenko, Byron Harvey
Rough stats: 25 km, 9h 50min, 1500m up (compare to 1800m, a number encountered by Bryce Williamson in 2016)
Tramped on 10th January 2020
My video from the tramp:
Max elevation: 1906 m
Min elevation: 627 m
Total climbing: 1972 m
Total descent: -1972 m
Total time: 10:03:19