Marlborough blog | December 2022/January 2023

Third time lucky.

I climbed over Blind Saddle four times already in 2022.

The last two crossings were in July 2022, when it started snowing as I hit Blind Saddle. On my way back, snow was 500 mm deep where sheltered on the southeast side.

Before that was a rain-affected hike up the Clarence River to Palmer Hut in March 2022.

Snow won’t be a problem this time, but rain might be. It’s been wet ever since I left Nelson, although I had dodged most of it when walking. No massive falls were predicted in the next ten days, which was helpful when I intended to follow up three streams on this mission.

I’m heading north, down the Clarence River, this time.

Who could resist the idea of visiting Dubious Bivvy?

I might not make it there, but a few other more accessible streams were worthy of a look.

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Day 1 | Warden Hut, 3rd trip this year

The climb goes on and on. When you think you’re at the top, Blind Saddle, there is still another 100 m or so of climbing.

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Day 2 | Yup, Forbes Hut, night 1

Last night I was so tired from lugging my pack over the hill that I went straight to sleep for the longest time horizontal that I remember.

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Day 3 | Forbes Hut again, night 2

It’s big harsh country, and I have come to love it.

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Day 4 | Goose Flat campsite

It was 7 pm when I finally started putting up my tent under a spreading willow tree down by the river.

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Day 5 | Fidgit Stream camping, night 1

It was a warm afternoon, and the lure of getting horizontal in my tent proved too much. Excellent camping conditions, although I’d prefer pure water.

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Day 6 | Fidgit Stream camping, night 2

Being a small bivvy, the accommodation costs are actually quite acceptable: free.

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Day 7 | Goose Flat Hut

You usually regret not doing something, rather than doing it.

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Day 8 | Limestone Stream campsite

Some things work out differently from what you plan, and today was such a day.

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Day 9 | Limestone Hut, night 1

Later, I wondered if I shouldn’t have a second New Year’s resolution: avoid narrow gorges, particularly lonely narrow gorges with numerous hanging rocks high above, plus having large jagged specimens in a steeply sloping creek.

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Day 10 | Limestone Hut, night 2

Isolation. You may find that feeling creeping in at Limestone.

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Day 11 | Cold Stream campsite

I thrashed around in some lawyer-strewn shrubbery that slashed my arms up fairly severely and, at that stage, starting to feel the energy expenditure, decided that little spot between two waterfalls was the best place to park myself for the night.

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Day 12 | Warden Hut

Despite travelling for hours under the continual threat of house-sized boulders, it all proved a great Little Adventure. It probably would only appeal to a particular type of maniac.

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Day 13 | out to Christchurch

Never again, I thought to myself, but I’ve said that before.