Thursday, 25 September 2008

A day on Rabbit Hill

The forecast for Wednesday was not the best for a tramp in the mountains. Strong Nor-Westers the day before, giving way to a Southerly front overnight, and the showers clearing on Wednesday. It was possible that they could clear in time for the tramp, so I decided that it was on.

7 people rang, and we met at the usual spot in Christchurch at 8 am, and it was cold, and overcast. Not looking very promising, but I was still hoping it would clear during the day. The Web cam at Mt Hutt had shown that it was clearer in the mountains.

So 2 cars, Paul driving his, and me driving mine. Initially 3 in each car, but I would pick up Diane K. at Kirwee on the way inland. It was fine and sunny crossing the Canterbury Plains, until we regrouped and had a toilet stop in Springfield, where it was overcast again. Damn. Anyway we continued inland, and just before Porter’s Pass it cleared up, and it was bright and sunny again as we approached Lake Lyndon.

The ford on the road alongside Lake Lyndon was filled with water. I hadn’t seen that for a while. Still, it did not provide much of a barrier to the cars, as we drove the final stretch to the south end of the lake where the tramp began.

From the cars we walked further along the road for a short distance, and then straight up Rabbit Hill. It was a steady climb to the top. On the way up we saw a falcon hovering on the breeze as it came up the side of the hill. It was fascinating to see it at such a close range. It held us all spellbound. After about a minute of hovering it folded it wings back, and dove down the mountainside to chase a small bird.

The breeze was a gusty south westerly, and cold. It made the otherwise sunny day unpleasant. Still the climb helped keep us warm. John and Clark, who had not been out on many tramps with us recently, took off ahead of the rest of us, and Judy followed a bit behind. Still we made good time and regrouped just off the top in a sheltered nook for morning tea.

After morning tea we dropped down off Rabbit Hill to a saddle towards Trig M, our next objective. It was a bit swampy down in the saddle, and the wind continued to harry us all the way there. On the way to Trig M we past rocks and small areas of forest that could of provided selter for lunch, but it was not yet time for lunch, so we pushed on. A small patch of snow provided an opportunity for a short snowball fight between Diane and I.

We reached Trig M at about noon, and found a sheltered spot just off the summit on the Northeast side for lunch. There were still plenty of clouds to be seen across the Canterbury Plains, but in the shelter it was warm and sunny still. We saw 5 other trampers moving away from us on the track towards Porter’s Pass.

After lunch we decided to keep going along the track to Porter’s Pass as well, otherwise we would risk getting back to the cars too early. It was quite an easy walk down to the pass, and more sheltered than the walk across the tops. From there we walked along the road to Lake Lyndon, and then alongside Lake Lyndon to the cars, arriving there just before 3pm.From there it was back to the Darfield bakery for afternoon coffee and a scone, and back to Christchurch.

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