Participants: Tobi Wulff, Charlotte Stephen-Brownie, Enda Walsh, Sam Stephenson, Eva Knop, Euan Cox, Alex Ross, Kate Wootton
Author: Kate Wootton
A long weekend! And long weekends MUST be used. Show weekend was fast approaching, but once again the weather caused us to change our original plans (it seems that a pretty sure-fire way to get it to rain on the West Coast is to plan a trip there). However between my not having internet at home and Enda’s working during the day, it took us a while to get things together, but get it we did! By jumping aboard Tobi and Charlotte’s well planned trip 🙂 So what began as a trip of the two of them quickly turned into a trip of 8….
Friday morning we were somehow all organised and made it to Culverden, where we introduced Eva (who’d arrived in the country from Switzerland two days earlier) to the delights of meat pies, waited for Enda’s car, discussed whether he could have left without us, decided that surely he wouldn’t have done that, and then eventually found him. More pies then on the road. By the time we finally made it to the trail head, shuffled cars, shuffled cars again on the advice of a passing local who told us that the area was known for break-ins, put on sunblock and finally began walking, it was after noon. Gotta love those bright early starts.
The walk began with a decent river crossing, much to Eva’s dismay as she watched us all happily plough through the water, boots and all. It took us til halfway through the next day to convince her to just leave her boots on.
From there we plodded on up Doubtful River, aiming for the hut for lunch. Before we reached it however, we found a beautiful swimming spot, the lure of which Alex simply couldn’t resist. One by one we all succumbed to peer pressure and enjoyed a very refreshing dip and a sunny lunch break. Sam even checked out the climbing on the cliff above the swimming hole.
We arrived at the ramshackle hut shortly after, but only stayed long enough for Euan and Tobi to find their names in the hut book from a previous trip. We continued along the river until the trail forked, then we began the ascent up to Lake Man Biv. By the time we reached the Biv, vibrant in its Forest Service orange, it was about dinner time, but we really wanted to make it up to the Lake for night, so we continued on. It wasn’t far to the lake, but unfortunately there was a significant amount of bush between us and it, which didn’t bode well for our rumbling tummies. Enda, in the lead, realised that we could actually by-pass it if we stuck to the sub-alpine scrub and skirted the edge of the bush. So we did. Remind me not to follow Enda again. Grasping at leaves and branches to haul ourselves up hidden banks, landing on Spaniards, balancing on springy dracophylum branches, following seemingly open bits to discover that they lead to worse, falling in hidden holes into icy creeks, and repeat, for close to an hour, we finally made it through, battered and bruised, legs covered in bloody reminders of Spaniards. The going was, thank God, somewhat easier from there, and we were well refreshed with a quick dip in the lake once we arrived.
We were well ready for dinner by that time and it went down a treat. We decided to top it off with tea and TimTams, but made the mistake of using Sam’s stove to boil the water, which took forever. Finally fed, tead and desserted, we took a last look at the vista below us, muted in the last rays of dusk, and went to bed for a long, peaceful sleep until the morning.
If only. It didn’t take long for the wind to get up, which is never conducive to a good sleep. I told myself I’d slept through worse, put my earplugs in and hid my head in my sleeping bag in an attempt to shut it out. Well that kind of worked until suddenly the tent flattened on me. Turns out this wasn’t a wind for ignoring. With Eva pushing the front of the tent up against the wind so I could get out, I scrambled out of my sleeping bag, slithered out of the tent and was blasted by the wind, wet with spray from the lake. I grabbed the end of the tent and hauled on it, holding it up, but then realised I was stuck. I needed both hands to hold it up, with Eva pushing from the inside, but then I had no hands to collect rocks to create an anchor. Luckily I wasn’t the only one up! Charlotte came and gave me a hand and we both collected rock after rock from the water’s edge, doing our best not to get drenched by the waves, and piled them up on all the pegs and guy ropes. Euan was up by this point and doing the same thing, so we gave him a hand and then, when we had enough rocks that the tent would rip before the pegs moved, we crawled back into the dry. Back in my sleeping bag, I resigned myself to a night of no sleep. Every time the wind sounded like it was abating a new gust came roaring in, louder than before.
The next morning, bleary eyed, I crawled out of the tent to damp, grey clag, but no wind! During the night Alex and Enda’s tent had mysteriously changed direction and now sported a landslide’s worth of rocks at one end. Apparently they were broadside to the wind in the beginning! Euan was the only one up, so we boiled some water, made tea and waited for everyone else to get up. No such luck. So we boiled a second pot and delivered tea to everyone in the hopes that that would get them up and moving. Nope. So we ate our breakfast. Eventually Sam, in shorts and bare feet, joined us, but then it started to drizzle harder and the three of us hid in the tent with our porridge. Finally around 11am everyone decided that the weather wasn’t going to get any better and maybe we should just suck it up and go. Another crack of noon start!
I’d really not been looking forward to going through all that scrub again in the damp, but luckily we were saved from doing so by the discovery of a lovely little path that took us straight through the bush, no bashing involved! Oh the pain that would have saved us if we’d found it the day before… After brunch at the biv we headed over the saddle and down into Pussy Stream (stop being immature). That eventually met with the Hope River where we headed up stream to the hotpools! By the time we eventually reached them we were all pretty knackered, but there’s nothing like the promise of hot water in the bush to wake you up! It took a bit of dam building and modifying to get them to a temperature we could actually sit in them, but finally we were soaking, cooking, eating and feeling very pleased with ourselves. It took periodic adjustments of the dam to keep us at a comfortable temperature, except for Eva who was sprawled happily at the hot end while all the rest of us were clustered where the cold was coming in to avoid being boiled alive!
That night everyone piled rocks to anchor the tents, but there was barely a breath of wind and we slept like logs. Next day we actually managed to get moving before noon! Good thing, we had 25km+ to cover to get back to the cars. It was all pretty flat though and we managed it in good time, despite an hour’s lunch break with hot pudding made by Tobi and Charlotte. Opinion was split as to whether it was quicker to stick to the trail or the riverbed, so like the braids in a river we diverged and re-converged again when the trail came back to the riverbed. This did result in some confusion occasionally when one group actually was faster than the other, and we had to determine whether the other group simply hadn’t caught up yet or had gone on ahead, but we managed not to lose each other or too much time! And when we got back the cars were even all still there and not broken into!