After having informed people, incorrectly, that daylight saving had ended, jumping in 24 hours early, I decided to ignore changing any clock until I make it to the Lewis Pass, there’s a couple of early starts required, time confusion may reign, and at least I know that at the moment get up time is just after the 6 am weather report, still pitch black, somehow that sounds better than the 5 am weather report and leaving at 7 am.
Actually, I can’t be bothered resetting my alarm clock and cameras.
But I was rustling around in darkness early, not much food to pack up now there’s only three nights to go, but unlike yesterday when I added considerably excessive water to my porridge, longer to boil, longer to eat, today I had it on the money and such was my enthusiasm to get underway I didn’t even go and visit that superb Blue Lake, too much nervousness about how long today’s adventure would take.
As it turned out it was a full eight hours, no doubt speeded in the trail finding department by the recent re-marking of the track, with snow poles, ie, metal posts with 300 mm of orange electrical conduit wired on the top, the other side of Waiau Pass had been done a couple of years ago. That certainly helps getting around the Lake Constance bluff, where a 41-year-old tramper, Andy Wyatt, fell and died just before Christmas, there’s a scree slope ascent, a big sidle around above the tops of the bluffs amongst dripping waist-high tussock, and a couple of short but steep descents needed to get to the head of the lake. Then you set sail on a 550 m climb to the pass itself, starting steep with a significant scrabble up some steepish scree but after that heart starter it’s not so bad.
The other side starting okay on the down with eventually some steep bits over rock, but the grip is great and it’s just a case of making your way to the river way down.
Gee, that word “steep” is getting a workout today. Maybe I’d better remind readers that the word steep is defined in NZ tramper’s vocabulary as “a slope of sufficient angle as to require squeezing the juice out of the tussock” but today there was scant tussock to grab, for the most part those scree slopes had nothing fixed with which to cling.
The whacky thing about the pass was the fine view back down the Sabine wasn’t replicated on the Canterbury side. The weather forecast for Nelson was fine, for Canterbury was cloud clearing and they were both accurate. On the Canterbury side the peaks to the ranges were in sunlight, the valley filled with cotton wool. So Thompson Pass was visible but Lake Thompson was in the cloud.
By the time I reached the Waiau Forks where there is a campsite or two, of a sort, the cloud was gone and I was boulder hopping down the valley in sunshine, eventually turning into a marked track in the forest and across the flats.
The minimal bivvy was as I remembered from November except the river is way down and I’ve found where all the sandflies have moved, there’s been very few until now, but this swarm really made up for the omission.← Day 18 | Blue Lake Hut, hey, I recognise a name in the hut book Day 20 | Christopher Hut, more gloom →