Avalanche Peak–Crow Hut April 2021

Saturday

I’m lying in the Crow Hut after a nice day of tramping with Jeremy.
It went like this. Katie and I drove down to Klondyke corner and picked up Jeremy from there in the morning leaving his car in the car park.
We started walking up the avalanche peak track. Katie told us to go ahead as she wanted to walk her pace. We walked ahead and took a break at the bush line. It was sunny but fresh but it looked like the weather might pack in later. We kept going. It was warm in the sun but then the cloud rolled in as we reached the last climb to the summit ridge. The cloud vanished again as we reached the ridge and we had great views and almost no wind at the top.
We dropped off the summit towards Bealy and then looped back around under Avalanche Peak to a saddle. Then it was a descent into the main ridge towards Rolleston.
We had periods of cold wind and then points where it was completely still again.
It was mostly sunny.
We stopped for lunch and I decided that it wasn’t too shabby all in all.
Jeremy agreed.
The scree descent is well marked and the screes before this all end in bluffs so should be avoided.
Unfortunately the scree was decidedly average and not runnable. We slipped and slid down the slope trying not to do our ankles (as we are old men after all).
Once at the bottom it was a short walk down stream to the very nice Crow Hut.
A family showed up later in the afternoon and pitched tents outside the hut.
We drank a lot of tea and ate a variety of junk food and freeze dry meals.
A nice day of tramping.
Hopefully it won’t rain tomorrow and we’ll scamper out the Waimak and head home.

It took us about 4.5 hours-ish with breaks to get to Crow Hut.

Sunday

It was grey and threatening to rain as we left the hut but we could see blue sky down in the valley. We walked down the crow river leaving the spots of rain behind and emerged at the waimak. We were greeted by a rainbow and nice views up the valley. The mountains reminded me of Europe. We walked out to the car and headed back to Christchurch.

Rod Donald Hut

I flew down to Christchurch on Thursday and worked remotely on Friday (although a healthy amount of time was spent drinking beer with Nick at the adventure park). In the evening Katie, Gina, Cass, Simon and family, and I drove to Port Levy Saddle and walked to the Rod Donald Hut. Due to all manner of disorganised-ness we arrived at the saddle at different times in different cars. I transported (formerly) my ladies and noted that I was slowly paying down my massive taxi-ing debt that I racked up in my previous pre-Europe life. They noted that the debt was great and the trip was short.

The Smalley’s had already set off when we arrived at Port Levy Saddle and after some faffing we did too. It was a short walk to the hut. We walked along the ridge in the moonlight with just a couple of headlamps between the four of us. Once at the hut we made hot chocolates and desserts and the girls toasted marshmallows on a candle that Gina lit. After the kids went to bed we lay outside in the grass near the hut. It was a warm night with some wind. The hills were illuminated by the almost full moon. It was very nice. We kept an eye on the stars and chatted. I asked Gina if the last 21 years had been good. We retired later to the hut to sleep.

The hut is a tidy nine bunk arrangement that you can book. I’d booked it all, which was nice.

On Saturday we made pancakes downstairs in the kitchen and started the day slowly. Before leaving, we hid Easter eggs outside for the girls to relive the great Otehake Easter Egg hunt from days gone by. The walk out was short again and we drove down to Little River for lunch. Such are the ways of us cafe dwelling types.

Gina and Katie headed off home and the rest of us went to Okains Bay for a night of camping.

Greenstone-Caples Feb 2021

Day 1

Jeremy picked Simon and I up in his clown car (his description) and we drove South. The better part of the day got us to the Greenstone carpark and we headed off in the heat up the track. It was a very warm afternoon and I walked T-shirt-less to try and stay cool.

The track took us up the Caples River, which disappointingly was full of cows. We got to the hut after a few hours and met Annu on her way back from swimming. She told us the swimming hole was amaaaaazing.  We also took a dip in the cold water flowing from a deep ravine.

There were very few people in the hut, despite our predictions. We chatted to the DoC ranger a little and then started making dinner. The hut was so empty we had a whole bench to spread out onto, which of course I did. I had two huge dry bags of food as Simon and I had bought enough for every eventuality in the supermarket the day before.

Day 2

We set off the following day before the heat. The route took us up the wide valley on a well formed track.
Lunch was by the river with a pre-lunch dip in the cold refreshing water.
As we weren’t in a hurry we made multiple cups of tea.
Then it was on and up towards the McKellar Saddle. We spotted what looked like the Matterhorn from the saddle but we were pretty sure we hadn’t stumbled into Europe. There were nice views from the saddle back the way we’d come. In the other direction we could see Key Summit across the valley, which reminded me of my walk up there with Leonie in 2013.

After a break in the shade on the other side of the saddle we hobbled down to the valley floor at old-man-with-dodgy-ankle pace. We had a break near Lake McKellar then another 45 mins of walking and we were at the hut. So was everybody else. We swam in the river again and heated our packet curries for dinner. The mild almost killed Annu but to be honest it wasn’t that mild. We ate in the crowded hut and it kept filling up until it was well over capacity. There was a surprising number of internationals considering the covid situation.
We hung around for a bit outside in the evening.

Day 3

The following day we walked out to Greenstone hut. It was another hot day. The valley was quite open and there were cows making a mess of the waterways. I walked ahead arriving at the hut around 3pm. We went in search of somewhere to swim after the others arrived. A steep bank took us down to a river some way up behind the hut. The water was cold but refreshing as usual and we washed away the sweat from our skin.

It was a nice evening in the hut. We sat outside on the balcony and chatted amongst ourselves and with some of the other trampers. The hut is on the TA so there were trampers walking that too. We had another go at making chocolate moose and made a slimy chocolate dessert also. Yum and yuck.

Day 4

The final day was Monday and we walked out in much cooler overcast weather to the car. Then it was back to Queenstown for a Ferg Burger. Jeremy and Simon kept driving North to Christchurch and I went to stay with Chris and Emily in Queenstown.