Ways to Frith.
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Mt Frith sits between the lower Tauherenikau Gorge and the Rimutaka Hill road. It is easy enough to get to from the pylon access road up from Abbots Stream but must you return the way you came? A few years ago I wondered if a round trip could be managed from the road end at the mouth of the gorge (Bucks Rd). From what DOC calls the Gorge Access track, a cut route used to climb to the ridge NE of .505 and along to Finis, and from there, in tall scrub and beech forest, to Mt Frith. Could you go along the side of the Tauherenikau River and by climbing straight up to Frith complete the circle? The Gorge Access track gives you a good start, but only to 061131 – along what must have once been a farm track, for the whole hillside above and the large side catchment up to Frith is all old farmland.
For the first 800m there is a good used route along the terrace at the foot of the hillside. However the next 500m across the extensive flat is all straggly manuka, tall fern, lawyer and blackberry. Even hugging the foot of the hill, the going is not nice. There are signs that people have crossed this in the recent past; the occasional red disc indicates someone else thought ours the best way and on either side of the big stream from Frith, near a spectacular little gorge, are the remains of two old semi-permanent camps. (Bush telegraph relates that those discs were no sooner put in than they were, if not entirely, removed by somebody else.) It is also possible to reach this point by travelling up the river, but with many crossings, a high sidle and deep wading.
From the camps, the map indicates a fine gentle ridge climbs to Frith. Previously, I had found that the middle section, over .472, was in near-impenetrable 3m high scrub – wonderful regeneration after being burnt off, but impossible travel. So this time we tried sidling just above the river to find better beech forest to the north of Frith. The Tauherenikau does not like sidlers and by lunch time we had been forced up to about the 300m contour line (as had the occasional red disc). Being neither up nor down, it seemed sensible to continue sidling up rather than lose all that height again. The going was mostly in good steepish beech forest, but with occasional stretches of scratchy dry scrub and two mercifully narrow strips of kiekie. When we finally struck up to the crest of the spur, we were past the scrub of the old burn and back in beech forest with an easy gentle climb to Frith.
I’d been told that the ridge-top route back had become badly overgrown with gorse two years ago and hadn’t been cleared since, so we took the well-marked but seldom used DOC track to just short of .712. From this point, with a stiff nor-wester testing our balance, we dropped onto a better used track to the double road bridge over Abbots Stream, where we had a car waiting. We were walking only six hours, but the scratchy bits were felt to have warranted the F in the trip’s M/F rating.
- Party members
- Colin Cook, David Ogilvie, Bruce and Kerry Popplewell, John Thomson (leader and scribe)