After my last trip to Lewis Pass on which we got rained on, I decided that the next time when we’ll be spending 5h of our Sunday in a car, it’ll be on a sunny day. And this was the day! 17 brave CTC souls including 2 adventurous prospective members took off from Palmer Lodge car park at about 9.30 AM. Once we crossed Boyle River, we followed an old DOC track that runs on the right hand side right after the swing bridge. The track was well maintained and nicely open as it now serves as a trapping line. It’s well marked all the way to the bush line.
Once on the bush edge, Emma took an opportunity to build a snowman for which I provided a half eaten carrot that found use as a snowman’s nose (though I claimed it back after a while!). Above the bushline we followed the ridge for about an hour when Chris, Lorraine, and Murray decided not to continue. The rest of us were determined to reach the top so we continued along with a few lightly scrambly parts all the way to the top of Mt Norma which we reached around 1.30 PM. These steep bits perhaps can be traversed around in different conditions but this time the side slopes of the steep bits were covered in deep snow.
After lunch, we decided to follow the plan which included taking the southwestern ridge and bushbash down towards the confluence of Nina River and Lucretia Stream. This ridge was actually nicer and a bit easier than the southeastern ridge that we took on the way up. Powdery snow made the ridge travel very enjoyable and fun – at some parts, it was waist-deep! The bushbashing part was alright, the bush was relatively open and we followed some vague deer tracks. Staying on the ridge proved to be a challenge as the ridge was very wide and it wasn’t clear where it actually is. Somewhere on the way through the bush, Penny lost her hat. She took her backpack off and started to search for the hat that she didn’t find but she managed to lose her pack now. It took 3 volunteers (Paul, Louise, Stefan) and 10 minutes to find her precious pack. I thought that this episode was worthy of a Loo Loo Award nomination next year!
Once on the track, I let the group loose as I believed that there is no way I could lose anyone if I stick to the back and all members stick to the track. If something happens, I’ll be there soon, right? Oh, how I was mistaken! I must have had a moment of delirium and forgot for a second that I’m with the CTC whose members love getting lost in the bush no matter the orange triangles. First, after following Nina Valley Track for about half-hour, I heard a whistle from my left-hand side. I jumped to the bush and found a CTC member who went to get some water and lost the way back to the track or something. Okay, sure. Then, as it was getting dark and we put headlamps on, I was on the track and I saw another light 30 m on my left side in the bush! It turned out to be another CTC member taking a wee detour. Okay, these things happen. It was pitch dark at this point. And then my small last group sped up, reached a loose group ahead of us, and passed about five people. Ten minutes later, those that we passed were now passing us one after another and I realized that I had no idea if there was anyone behind me or if I’m the last person. I stopped for a minute and used my whistle – no answer. Okay, everybody’s ahead. I think. Or the last person doesn’t have a torch and is slowly turning into an icicle. Oh well – we’ll see at the carpark. As Emma said earlier, if 90 % of members make it back that is still a reasonably sounding number.
We reached the carpark just before 7 PM so about 9½ h after we set off. It was freezing so we quickly jumped into the cars and off we went. Half of the group finished in a pub in Culverden where we feasted on fries and beer, the other half went straight back to Christchurch.
We had an exceptionally capable and caring group and it was great to see everyone working as a team. Thanks to all who contributed to the wellbeing of the group and supporting others (namely eg. Simon, Paul, Stefan or Jack).
Rough stats: 17 km, 1300m up, 9.5h
Tramped on 4th July 2021.
Participants: Michal Klajban (leader, GPX, scribe), Paul Yeoman, Jack O’Connor, Emma Rogers, Louise Petrie, Stefan Fairweather, Xiaoqiu Jiang, Simon Barr, Chris McGimpsey, Brenda Rainsbury, Nat Flynn, Penny Coffey, Geoffroy Magalhaes, Lorraine Poole, Lynette Hartley, Murray Gifford, Abhishek Nainwal
Max elevation: 1739 m
Min elevation: 636 m