Thursday afternoon at 4:00 pm we careened out of Platform 9 (¾) and skidded to a halt outside the Interislander. Personally I was thrilled to be in the van, having only ever been a foot passenger on the ferry—what a treat! We arrived in Picton around 8:00 pm and that was the extent to which we stuck to the ‘original plan’, i.e., an alpine trip to Angelus Peak. The weather was predicted to behave badly, which has been a pretty consistent motif this winter, so nobody was too surprised by this development. Lucky for us freeloaders, Byron and Tony worked tirelessly to put together a backup plan so off we went to the Richmond Ranges to set up camp for the night in preparation for our new and improved plan to summit Bounds Peak.
Everyone woke up quite smug, having not been rained on during the night, and enjoyed the mild temperatures and clear blue sky. Weather forecast shmeather smchorecast! It was going to be a fabulous weekend! We hopped back into the van and drove about an hour to our starting point at Stronvar Station. After a bit of walking amongst the sheep and cows—who were thoroughly convinced that our sole plan for the weekend was to follow them—we dipped down into the streambed and followed that instead. There were wet feet and loose rocks, but also beautifully pronounced geological striations, incredibly steep hillsides, and one very tempting and moderately climbable waterfall, whose challenge was accepted.
We made it to Gosling Hut in about 3½ hours, and the weather played ball until well after that. We all aired out our wet boots and lay in the sun or on the bunks reading, snacking, chatting, and drinking manuka tea picked fresh from the surrounding trees! (or was it kanuka? I received several lectures outlining out the differences, which I immediately forgot). That afternoon, the weather started to appear more as was predicted for the weekend, and on Friday evening, all 8 of us settled cozily into the 6 person hut…
… until our departure on Sunday morning!
We roasted marshmallows! We frolicked in the snow! We frolicked in the rain! There was m/kanuka tea! Naps a plenty! Snacks, snacks, snacks! There were hours and hours of reading! We learned new card games! And then immediately banished Byron because of his infuriating gameplay strategy! Fire a-blazing! Professional photoshoots by Tony and Lukas! We flipped through 50 year old intentions books! We pored over WTMC’s annual journal! THERE WERE SO MANY ACTIVITIES! SO MUCH RELAXATION!
We were rested enough to be eager for a proper alpine start on Sunday morning. We assessed—once at 12:00 am and again at 2:00 am—only to discover that it was raining harder than it had all weekend. Back to bed we went—we’d become dependent on our 12 hours of sleep anyway.
On Sunday morning, we headed out just before 9:00 am. The rain had finally stopped. As we got further downstream the clouds began to clear. By the time we made it back to the farm our mantra had become ‘don’t look back’ because taunting us was bright blue sky illuminating a gorgeous collection of peaks packed with fresh snow—one of which was Bounds. If we thought that cheeky peak was just playing hard to get with our group for the weekend, our theory was quickly put into perspective by the fact that this was Tony’s fourth unsuccessful attempt to summit the elusive Bounds Peak. Turns out the rest of us have some serious catching up to do. See you next year Bounds!