Participants: Rose Pearson (scribe), Andre Eger, Nick Riordan, Mathew Falloon
It began with a text:
Mathew F: Would you be interested in going to the Ellerslie Flower show? For extra difficulty Saturday or Sunday.
Rose P: Oh maybe Sunday. I’m planning to fast pack the 3 passes tramp around Arthurs Pass. Depends on how fast we go.
Mathew F: You’re pretty quick. Where are you planning to come out?
Rose P: West coast. Will likely come out early Sunday, but will then need to get back to our car. Down the Styx. Won’t carry much. Potentially interested in tramping up to meet up for the night then all walking out together?
Mathew F: Maybe, I’ll have to think on that. I am interested, but not sure if I am fit enough to get up and down a significant portion of the Styx in good time. Tell me which hut you aim to get to for the night and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.
With Matt sounding keen, I needed some friends to join me for the day, and I knew just where to look. Soon emails where flying left, right and centre.
Is Andre ready for a wander in the woods yet?
Matt F was asking me about my weekend. He’s potentially interested in walking up the Styx Sat too and meeting us at a hut then walking back out with us Sunday. Could avoid potential car issues. He was wondering what hut we would make it too. The closer to the road the better it seems.
Matt, really? What news! I will contact Andre immediately for yea or neigh. He is keen for the woods I am sure.
Oh I like this idea a lot
I recommend the mix-styx hut if water is low and we are amazingly fast.
Also, Andre is in
With the location settled, I checked with Matt to see if he was in. He was, and was quickly discussing the logistics of returning in time for the Ellerslie flower show:
Hi Rose I just wanted to confirm some details for the weekend trip you’ve talked me into.
Supposing four hours from the Mid-styx hut back to the car and four hours driving back to CHCH that should leave us with ~3 hours to see the Ellerslie show.
The ultra-convenient taxi.
Of course the Ellerslie Flower show. How could I have forgotten!
The next few days flashed by as we laid careful plans: Matt would picks us up at 5:30am Saturday and drop us at the Waimakariri before 8am. We would walk and run our way along rivers, over passes and past lakes carrying only down jackets to sleep in and some treats for Matt before arriving at the Grassy Flats hut on sundown where we would meet Matt and deliver our treats. Here we’d share a meal and some stories before walking out together the next day. Matt, on the other-hand, would walk in from the Styx River to the Mid Styx hut where he would meet us that evening and feed us beef curry and cold beer.
It was only as the sun was rising on our way to Arthurs pass did we realise we were heading for different destinations, and as Matt pointed out it was we who had changed the plan not him. After a quick discussion we said we’d try push on if we could, and otherwise we’d stay at Grassy Flats Hut and be back at the car by 11am.
Soon we were at the Waimak. After a quick photo, we hoisted our tiny bags and were off quietly padding along the soft beach forest in our light running shoes. Upon reaching Turkey flats, Andre and I broke into a trot. I still felt light and carefree, but reality was already starting to catch up with Nick who muttered “You’ve got to be f#@cking kidding me’ under his breath before cinching his pack tight onto his pack and running to catch up.
Meanwhile, Mathew was back on the Road hurtling down the Otira Gorge. Two hours later saw him at the Styx car park beginning his part of the tramp.
We reached Carrington hut after 2.5 hrs and stopped for a quick drink and something to eat. I was already on my third peanut butter sandwich as Andre chomped down his first Morobar. We continued on to Harmen then Whitehorn pass. It was amusing to follow Andre as his five-finger shoes left barefoot indents in the snow. At Whitehorn we paused for another sandwich and Morobar stop before descending the scree. The five fingers still intact, we reached Park Morpeth hut at 2:30pm after about 6.5 hrs.
About the same time Matt was reaching the Mid-Styx hut after following the Styx River Track up the at times gorgy Styx river. He is quoted in saying “The hardest part of the walk in is the spiders. Seriously fuck spiders, dozens of them forming webs across the track at face height.”
From Park Morpeth we continued to Browning Pass where Andre’s summer in Germany spent lazing indoors began to catch up with him. Where once his keen eyes shone with life, vacant voids stared out at us at the top. Never the less, he could still muster a jog around Lake Browning to the head of the Arahura River. We paused at Harmen hut to restock our stomachs and slurp down some Berry passion Raro Nick found.
It was now 6pm, and Matt was almost done reading the Mid-Styx huts fine selection of hunting literature. Alone in the bush he found his mind playing tricks on him. He swears he faintly heard people talking about a dozen times throughout the evening. Alas we were still far away loping over the Styx Saddle to reach Grassy Flats hut in late dusk 13hrs and 42k after beginning our journey.
And so the first stars appeared to find Nick, Andre and I frantically searching the Grassy Flats Hut for some matches so we could cook up Andre’s merger meal of noodles, as Matt nodded off to sleep thinking ‘No beers for them ay”. We did secure some matches and after thanking the back-country hut god we tucked into the noodles. And oh they were delicious. After this, our eyes heavy with the days travels we headed off to sleep. I huddled in my Long-johns and Puffer jacket while Nick and Andre lay snuggly wrapped in their sleeping bags. The last minute change of sleeping arrangement plans hadn’t quite made it to my ears.
The next morning we woke with dawn and after a cup of tea for breakfast we set off to the car. Travelling at a leisurely pace enjoying the birdlife and reached the car at 11:02am, half an hour after Matt. We delivered our treats of cheese crackers and dates and he graciously offered us the still cold beers he had carried in and out of the Mid-Styx hut before we set off for Christchurch.
We stopped only for Goody-Goody Gum Drops ice-cream at Arthurs Pass, and reached Nick’s place abound 3:30pm where we parted ways. From here Matt and I headed to the flower show. In Matt’s words: “It was good if a bit small with relatively few gardens compared to the number of retail stores. The gardens that were there were good, and it was plain to see why the supreme winner won.”
With contribution from Mathew Falloon, Nick Riordan and Andre Eger