This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in October 2005
Cow Creek Hut; Arete Forks Hut and Environs
May 14-15 2005 (Map S25 & Pt R25 Levin)
Tarn Ridge Hut here we come!
Or so we thought; until the driver tried to open the windward car door when we reached The Pines! As we had driven in to The Pines we were looking at the ranges straight on and in the comfort of a vehicle we were not cognizant of the rapid movement of the clouds until we pushed open the car doors and looked up to view the clouds side-on. It was immediately evident that we were not going to get to our prime destination via Mitre that day; and that thought was re-enforced when local resident, and former club member, Chris Tait, drove up and made the comment that “It might be a bit breezy on the tops.”
Option two was Cow Creek – so by 9.30 we were away from Kiriwhakapapa road end. It was an enjoyable walk in to Cow Creek Hut for a late lunch. Duncan, David and Mark had detoured to Blue Range Hut for a look-see and caught us up just as we reached the river.
As we were finishing lunch two WT&MC members stopped in – they had been forced off Waingawa by the high winds! In the abbreviated afternoon we went for a stroll to Cleft Creek to see the massive slip damage from a few years ago – there has also been a new slip above the Cleft Creek ‘ravine’ but it has not encroached on to the track seriously…yet. On our return to the hut before dusk limited our vision, we collected sufficient wood from the clearings at both ends of the new bridge to last several nights.
The Sunday morning sky was slightly grey but not as breezy. David, Mark and Bill had Monday commitments, so headed out to Kiriwhakapapa. They followed the river track downstream from the hut until they came to the third significant side stream on the true right; where they crossed the Waingawa River and went up the spur on the true left of the side stream directly opposite. This took them up to the ridge track, several hundred metres northwest of spot height 910. It was then a comfortable plod out to warm sun at the road end.
Meanwhile, Colin, Dave and Duncan set off for Arete Forks Hut. Colin details their day…
The track initially rises steeply for about 230 metres before it starts to sidle. At that point you’re already perhaps 40 metres above the height of Arete Forks Hut, but there is still a lot to be done. The track is in good nick, cleared recently, but it crosses six biggish side streams and involves a lot of up and down, often by 100 metres or more. It took us about 3.5 hours. Dave was overjoyed to find a new pot belly stove installed at the hut.
After lunch, back up the track perhaps 100 vertical metres, then at a well blazed tree, on up the spur, following a fairly well marked route to Table Ridge. The transition through the scrub, mostly dracophyllum, was a bit scratchy but we did emerge beside a pink tie piece. There was some wind and light rain but nothing to worry us. On top, at bump 1478, we replenished the stone arrow, then turned east. The Wairarapa soon came into view and we could see the spur back to Cow Creek Hut. However, there was a nasty surprise awaiting me, if not Dave, - the track through the bush was over-grown and poorly marked not a DoC track - and dusk was approaching! So we had an anxious hour or so getting back to the start of the sidle track upstream of Cow Creek Hut. Torches were needed part way down that last DoC-marked bit – they would have been useless for following the overgrown section – especially mine, which I discovered I had left behind at the hut! We returned to the hut just on six pm.
An “interesting” time.
- Party members were
- Bill Allcock, Colin Cook, Duncan Gibb, Mark Leslie, David Molnar, and Dave Reynolds.