This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in April 2002-04-19
Otaki Forks - Sheridan Creek - Tirotiro Knob - Field Hut
9 March 2002
I've always considered it important to do a reccie on trips I am going to lead, especially Saturday trips, as off-track travel can often mean running into.11 unexpected hazards. I was glad I had done so for this route, as it looked pretty straightforward on the map but it turned out to be more difficult than I expected, and I do question the 'medium' tag on the fixture card. Some people were no doubt put off by my trip description on club night, but it was important no-one ended up having a day they did not enjoy.
As it turned out, there were six members in the party and we got away from Otaki Forks promptly at 8.30 am. It was the same day as the Tararua Mountain Race, and already the marquee was up at the Forks end.
On the reccie, the suggested route to Sheridan Creek via part of the Arcus Loop turned out to be a battle with scrub and rubus cissoides, so, we decided to go up the road as far as the camping ground and then go across country for the last section. There is still a bit of a track there, despite the area going wild with the departure of stock, and we probably saved ourselves half an hour overall by going this way.
Like many Tararua streams this year, Sheridan Creek is extra-slippery with a brown slime that seems to be even slimier in sunny spots. I knew it would be slow-going for three hours and several of the party brought or picked up a stick for a bit of balance.
This creek is beautiful and exciting. There are seven large, swimming pool-sized pools, all of which can be sidled on the section we traveled. The first sidle requires some care, and a future leader could perhaps pack a rope for extra safety. There are some handholds but it is still tricky; Lynne wisely went down on her bottom and avoided the possibility of slipping.
Unfortunately, my hopes of a burning hot day with lovely swims at our morning tea and lunch breaks were dashed by the dark cloud and sporadic spitting. It was not a cold day, but a long time in the stream had everyone a bit on the cool side. However, it was great fun negotiating the smaller pools and rapids, none of which were actually dangerous with the creek at its level on the day. Further up, the creek steepens and extra care is needed.
We conveniently reached our point of departure from Sheridan Creek, which is at 330 - 350m, depending on what air pressure changes are doing to altimeter readings at the time.
The ascent is fairly steep and scrubby but it does level and thin out at times further up. It is a bit of a grunt, especially the last little bit onto Tirotiro Knob itself.
From there we took 15-20 minutes to Field Hut, where we signed the book and put in a club sticker, then chatted to a mountain race official.
We arrived back down at the Forks at around 4pm to much encouragement and cheers from various individuals who assumed we were mountain race participants. The trip took just under 8 hours - I recommend it is designated medium - fit in the future.
The party consisted of all members: Mike Arnold, Barry.Howard, Masaki Kojima, John Penhale, Lynne Pomare and Marg Conal (leader and scribe).