This trip promised great things: 3 days away, good weather (which always seems to happen in Nelson Lakes), an easy walk in and an achievable peak. And that was before I met everyone else on the trip. Our party were: Mike P, stalwart leader, Katie, Rini, Paul, Gary, Kevin and myself (Paula).
The ferry trip was spent figuring out where exactly we were going, with most of us leaving the detail of understanding what we were doing to the last minute. Paul also spent this time figuring out what he needed to bring and realising he needed a cup and plate stocked up on the plentiful supply of foam coffee cups the ferry had.
We spent the Thursday night in Picton as our ferry was a late departure. Friday morning dawned clear – not that we noticed, being too busy getting ready for our early departure to our destination and identifying who the snorers were.
The starting point of our walk was beyond Rainbow Station and ski field, along the (Transpower maintained) access road, which had a few very rocky fords. At the start we turned our gaze to the wide river plain we were headed for and started walking. We criss-crossed the river and dodged the patches of matagouri that littered the landscape. The first river plain narrowed into a gorge which we sidled around which opened into another large river plain where we crossed the river forks and followed the river up into a valley where the hut was. The hut was cute, code for tiny, sleeping 6. The most noted snorer was elected to sleep in the tent.
We started early the next day, getting a head start on the sun. Inevitably we started by crossing the river setting the scene for soggy cold feet all day. Clambering over fallen mossy trees we tumbled out to the snow at about the treeline and wend our way round the slope to the top of the col. Snow! We followed the ridgeline up clambering over the rocks with the soft soggy snow seeming to come away with our steps. We paused at 1900 m pushed on a bit further before deciding that not all were comfortable with the planned route and the avalanche risk too high to try alternatives. The view up there was fantastic with endless rows of snow topped ridges stretching ahead of us. We seemed to be sitting above the clouds – fantastic views!
Back down at the hut we settled in for an afternoon of R&R – except for Mike who still had energy to burn and chopped wood for the hut fire.
The evening meal was again fantastic, risotto followed by Gary’s famous chocolate mousse. Kevin couldn’t help himself and succumbed to 2 helpings!
As forecast the rain arrived overnight during our last night and we set off early on last day in case the rivers rose. Fortunately the rain stayed light and we didn’t have any issues getting back. The final stage of our trip involved debating where to go for lunch and coffee and an uneventful journey back to Wellington.