Otaki Forks - Field Hut - Vosseler Peak - Penn Creek
15-16 January 2000
This was a medium trip which I decided to do in reverse. I figured everyone would be fit after Christmas trips, and I could afford to go into Penn Creek on Saturday afternoon and do the climb out over Vosseler Peak and the tops on Sunday.
We departed Otaki Forks after lunch, shortly after 1pm, and headed along the Penn Creek track. The slips on the Otaki side of the Penn Creek track had deteriorated from my previous visit to this area some 12 months earlier, particularly those around the major side creeks. There were new slips and numerous wind falls in the Penn Creek sections of the track. After the first major bush bash in the Penn Creek section we scrambled down the next slip and dropped into the creek hoping for better travel. There was one large gorgy pool which required a waist-high dunking and an assisted climb out for the vertically challenged. Most of the creek crossings were about mid-calf. We arrived at Penn Creek hut shortly after 6pm.
On reflection I don't think the creek travel was any quicker due to obstacles and a few S bends. The trip into Penn Creek had taken about an hour longer than I expected due to the state of the track and a very warm afternoon. A tramper staying in the hut had also taken an hour longer, however he had completely lost the track at one stage.
Given the slow progress on Saturday I decided, given Sunday was likely to be hot and Vosseler Spur full of windfalls, that an early start was called for. The wake up call was for 5.30am with departure by 7am. The party was so well organised we were out the door by 6.50am and at the Penn Creek forks by 7am. There was a small scramble up onto the spur at the forks for several minutes and then we stumbled onto the old track with its intermittent markers. The track was fairly easy to follow going uphill apart from the occasional large windfall. The spur is covered with good bush and the climb was gradual to the bush edge which took us about 2 hours. As indicated in the "Merv Rodgers' guide" the scrub at the bush edge is thick with leatherwood and hard going for about 1/2 hour. After this there was low alpine scrub and the best route of sorts was to follow what appeared to be a dry water course. We were on Vosseler Peak at 10am which was in line with the time in "Merv Rodgers' Guide". There were great views with a mostly blue sky but a tad cool in the wind with a sharp northerly. We had a 1/2 hour break for scroggin and to take in views. The party pushed onto Bridge Peak for a very welcome but hot lunch stop at 12pm. The thirstier party members were able to fill their water bottles from the small tarns nearby. The trip back to Otaki Forks was straight-forward though somewhat hot out of the bush. This was compensated for by the views and down hill gradient.
We were back at the cars shortly before 5pm. The party had packed a good bit of tramping into 28 hours and felt slightly tired for their efforts.
Trip members: Carol Bryan, Colin Cook, Nina Cook, Andreas Kubisch and Bernard Molloy (leader and scribe).