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.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Woolshed Creek Hut

This time it was an overnight stay at the Woolshed Creek Hut near Mt Somers. This was an easy walk in of about 2.5 hours, but because of the overnight stay, we carried big packs.

We all met at Dorothy’s place in Hornby (because that is on the way out of town). Dorothy, Paul and I travelled in my car, and Les, Diane and Hans went in Les’ car. Les and Diane were only coming in for the day trip, Les because he had a cold, and wanted to make sure he was better for his a Diane’s big trip to America next week, and Diane because she had to work the next day. Hans was going to swap into my car for the return journey.

We were in the middle of a low pressure system, so the weather was going to be unpredictable. We had to be prepared for anything.

We travelled South to Rakaia, that being the easiest way out of town from Hornby, and then inland via Thompson’s track. To get to the start of the Miner’s track we drove up Jig road to a shelter, where we parked the cars, and got changed into our tramping gear.

The trip is through beech forest along the Woolshed stream. The track is easy and well maintained, so the going was easy. We stopped at an old abandoned coal mine for morning tea. The morning was cool, but sunny, with no wind. Ideal tramping conditions. From then the track goes up to Trig R, and then down to the Hut. This part of the trip is in the open, with views of the mountains all around, and up the Stour River Valley towards Lake Emily.

There were patches of snow on the ground, and plenty of Mud.

We arrived at the hut in plenty of time for lunch. The door to the bedrooms on the hut had been left open. We subsequently discovered the catch was faulty. The hut is a large 26 bunk hut, only a couple of years old. It had been the first time any of us had stayed there since the old huts had been replaced. A very comfortable place to stay. We quickly started eating lunch. Hans noticed some other people coming down the track, and we wondered if we would have company for the night. It was the Westy Walkers from West Melton. They were only staying for lunch before heading back, but they seemed like a fun group.

After lunch Les and Diane headed back to the cars along a 4 wheel drive track. The rest of us set out to explore the area around the hut, but as it looked like the weather was closing in, we did not want to venture far from the hut. There was a new swing bridge along the track up towards the Bus Stop, so we went to explore that. Its major use was obviously as an opossum highway. From there we walked along side a ridge that lead us to the track that continued on to the Pinnacles Hut. There it started to rain, so we went back to the hut.

The Westy Walkers had left by this time, so we settled in for the afternoon, doing a jigsaw, and reading magazines. We had the fire going nicely, so we were all comfortable. We could here a lot of thunder echoing about the hills, but could not locate where it came from.

Before dark we all started cook tea. Because it was only for 1 night, and such an easy trip, we could afford to take nicer food than normal. I had a pre-made Moroccan lamb, with some rice. Some Pea and Ham soup for a starter, and some fruit salad and an apple for desert. Hanz had steak and potato, Paul had a Pie (which he baked in tinfoil on the fire), Backed Beans, and a rice pudding. Dorothy had some concoction of rehydrated foods which she had made herself.

We were all off to be by 9 pm except Dorothy, who had stayed up to about 11pm to complete the jigsaw.

The next morning we were all up pretty early, and prepared breakfast, packed our packs , cleaned the hut and were ready to go about 8:15am. We followed the 4 wheel drive track back out of the hut. It was foggy for a while so we did not see much on the way out. After we got back to the mine, we decided we were getting out too easily, and so took the sidewinder track down to the creek. The trip down the hillside was steep, but it had recently been cleared. It was in beech forest so there were plenty of handholds to help us down.Even with the detour we were out by 10:15am. We changed into clean clothing, and drove to Hororata cafe for a second breakfast before heading back into the city. I was home by 1pm.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

It's what we do on Wednesdays

On Wednesdays I go tramping with the Avon Tramping Club. Today was a Norwesterly day which means warm weather (for early spring) with high cloud. The tramp was a simple one from Bottle Lake Forest Park, to Spencer Park, and on to Brooklands, and then to return.

Seven people turned up for the days tramp, with Les as our leader. Les is in his 70s, and very fit. Not fit for his age, fit for any age, although now arthritis is starting to slow him down.

Bottle Lake Forest Park, in Christchurch, is a valuable recreational asset for the city. Essentially it is a Pine Plantation, and some of it is a landfill. Does not sound like much of an asset, but the whole area is a maze of walking, running, mountain biking and horse riding tracks. During the day, we made use of all of these types of tracks, as well as walking along the beach, and Brooklands Lagoon (shown in the photo).

We had morning tea in Spencer Park, which is a large open space near the beach with picnic and camping facilities, and a small petting zoo. Then onward alongside the inland bank of Brooklands lagoon to Brooklands township, around the town on the stopbank near the Waimakariri River, then through a right of way past a horse paddock (after feeding the horses some grass in return for stroking their necks and noses) and through Brooklands to a park for lunch.

After lunch it was all the way back again to the Bottle lake Forest carpark, and on to a local cafe for some Humming Bird cake and a laté.

So at the end of the day I have aching legs (soothed by a hot bath), and memories of a fun day spent with good company.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

The Scarlet Letter

Maybe you are wondering what the red letter A is doing in my sidebar. It indicates that I identify with being an Atheist. More information of this symbol can be found at


Life is complicated. As a result we can all be wrong, and frequently are. But how often do we admit that? Yet admitting that you are wrong is an opportunity to learn.

I will be using this blog to discuss my opinions, talk about things I am doing, and things I am thinking. I am frequently going to be wrong, so hopefully it will be a chance for learning.

I hope to make this blog entertaining, and to promote lively discussion. Anyway; enjoy.