This article was first published in The Tararua Tramper in July 1997
Johnson's Road - Drummond Ridge - Long Ridge - Mt Devine
Saturday 30 November 1996
At about 8.20am on a fine morning we left the farm at the top of Johnson's Rd (Whiteman's Valley South). There was an easy ascent of some 320m (1050ft) to Bump 569m, west of Mt Devine. Past growing pines we freed a mohair goat from barbed wire.
Then the farm dog followed us and craftily found small holes in fences while we kept to gates as requested. At the ridge top Glenys tried hard to get "Rover" towards home, but he refused. All this delayed us about 20 minutes!
Soon we were at the head of the Drummond Ridge and ready for a trackless morning to the south-east. The ridge loses little height in about one and a half hours' travel. We passed an old fly-camp, noting old markers, while ridge dips and several direction changes tested our observation and route-finding abilities. There were both old and recent windfalls. Apart from such wreckage, we admired large rimu and rata, as well as a variety of ferns.
By late morning we had correctly descended to the toe of the ridge, confirmed by Skull Gully Stream on our right. Our collective route-finding had been as hoped for with Peter, Ken, Carol, Don and Sue usually in the van.
"Rover" annoyingly began barking - probably hunger pangs - so we kept well away from the forbidden road, and sidled up valley with the confluence of West and East branches of the Wainuiomata River somewhere east of us. We continued on almost flat terrain near a waterway that curved widely at times. We had lunch on an unlisted island. "Rover" swiftly gobbled spare party food, but he preferred Tim's larder.
After lunch we traversed upriver for a few minutes. Then, in the absence of tour guides, signposts, discs, locator beacons, satellite systems etc, we reverted to two attributes of successful tramping, that is, using a magnetic compass and applying reasoning power.
Our direction of magnetic north was right while the water volume indicated one river branch not two. Because we had kept to the northern side of the valley, the waterway must be the West Branch Wainui. Therefore Long Ridge must be to our right above.
Sue led off around three huge new windfalls, and found an open route but somewhat greasy underfoot. Once on Long Ridge, direction was confirmed by compass. We proceeded on fairly level going before finding old markers, which Peter recognised, to everyone's relief. A brief stop with Tim looking after Rover again.
The upward gradient was slight for over an hour despite a few direction changes. Then we were onto much steeper ground with recent windfalls so the scouts kept to the faint foot-track. Big trees were still about at the 600m contour. By late afternoon we were on Mt Devine 632m (2073ft) after a total climb from the river of about 466m (1530ft).
Then moving west on jeep tracks, feeling the cool northerly, we descended in and out of two saddles to put us near Bump 569m again.
One group went ahead. This meant that the others had to ensure Rover got home. Peter used a short cut to avoid one high fence, which put the second group ahead. However, Ray and Tim had to carry a muddy dog over more fences - thanks for such dedication.
Jillian was back first at the farm, about 6pm, and was she beaming! Thanks all for co-operation, especially on the untracked ridges. Pleasing to have five competent women on a rugged trip. Welcome Jillian to this grade.
- In case the Regional Council ever finds out we were in their patch, I only know the participants as
- Sue C, Glenys E, Carol K, Sieny P, Jillian M, Ken F, Michael H, Franz H, Bernard M, Don Mc, Tim S, Ray S, Peter J (leader) and "Rover".