Rocky Stream from Mount Dick
M/F Off-track Exploration Saturday 11 June 2005
Winter days are brief, about nine and one-quarter hours of sun-up in June; the afternoons always seem especially short. After a couple of trips where getting on to good tracks before dusk had been a close run thing, this time a less fraught return to the road end was hoped for. But, deciding only at Brown Owl at 7.30 am that the glimpse of blue in the east was preferable to the mist and gloom of the Hutt Valley, we started late, setting off in clear sunny conditions at 9 am from Mount Dick, 400 m above the Wairarapa. We were heading for Rocky Stream forks.
From the parking area below the lookout a four-wheel-drive track continues to a saddle and from there a good track leads through scrub to the eastern watershed ridge of Devils Creek. Swinging north, the track enters bush, passing over Bumps 581 and 582 then east through a shallow saddle to reach Bump 632. We turned east at Bump 581, intending to drop to the upper forks of Devils Creek and thence to Bump 632; however we were led astray by a wellmarked trail following the spur line that veers south to the lower forks. Finally, some twenty metres above the creek we left the trail, threaded through some supplejack, crossed the creek, climbed the spur, and in this way reached Bump 632, an “H-bump”.
The left arm of the “H” leads northwest then west to Bump 532. From there (deploring the green tape since we were supposed to be off-track) we turned northwest again, down the spur toward Rocky Stream forks. But, at about 500m and 11.30 am we turned northeastish, deciding to cross Rocky Stream well above the forks, so shortening the trip to guarantee a daylight exit.
Not a difficult navigational feat to drop into a stream, so the leader put compass away and dropped – through steep but easy country. Some 200 m lower down it was pointed out we were traveling west! Not convinced but just to be careful it was agreed to sidle upstream. When we did reach the stream it soon became clear we were only just above the forks! Lunch was taken on a delightful truly off-track platform overlooking both branches while the leader tried to figure out just what had happened. Perhaps we had not traveled far enough northeastish to gain the subsidiary spur evident on the map, but had just moved around on the broad face of the main spur, which at about 300 m does tend to fall toward the west.
But now we had to get out before dusk! A steady steep climb up the spur brought us to Dave’s Corner, a small cairn (it needs rebuilding Dave) marking the area where the main Waiohine ridge dissolves into face and slithers southeast. Descending with care – at about 620 m there is a nasty little leftward jog not apparent on the map – we managed to stay on the ridge and finally arrived back at H-bump 632. The route now was southeast down the right arm and leg of the H, a left turn and a right turn and so to Bump 582. It was about 4 pm, time for a quick afternoon tea.
From Bump 582 the rule is: follow the arrows, either blue paint on trees or assembled large sticks lying on the track, and tricky false spurs will be avoided. So we got out, with perhaps 15 minutes to spare.
- Party members were
- Andy Bartle, Neil Challands, Colin Cook (leader/scribe), Ken Fraser, Susan Guscott, Don McKay, Alex Nairn, Tim Stone.