Hutt River / Quoin Ridge
Saturday December 4, 2010
This was a trip that evolved from a definite plan to a serendipitous adventure. On the Friday prior to the trip we were intending to go into the Eastern Hutt River valley. However, the lure of low water levels due to several weeks of no rain and the possibility of getting to Renata Forks on a pristine spring day, and hence up on to Quoin Ridge, dominated the conversation as we drove north towards Kaitoke Regional Park. Once over the access road and sloshing our way up the Western Hutt River, the conversation focused on which spurs up on to Quoin Ridge had not been explored. Somewhere in the conversation the subject of the gorge in the Eastern Hutt River came up and the trip realigned itself. At about GR 860565 we scrambled steeply out of the river course and got on to a side spur that took us on to the crest of a significant spur that rises to Quoin Ridge from the Western Hutt River on a bearing of about 100o. This spur tops out on Quoin Ridge at the fenced enclosure in the regenerating study area, just under altitude 800 metres. We found a shady spot and had a welcome lunch. The afternoon began with a false start south east down the spur leading to spot height 754 but we made a correction and we were reasonably confident we had found our way to the flattish section of the spur identified on the map as point 754. Our intended route from that point was down to the confluence of the Eastern Hutt River and the stream to the south that paralleled the spur we were descending GR885558. As so often eventuates when descending a spur that lacks clear definition, navigation is not always pristine, and we got to the river upstream from our intended point. There remains another trip to go back and ‘get it right’.
Anyway, we followed the still-visible route downstream on the true right of the Eastern Hutt River until we reached the WRC sign post for the track that bypasses the gorge in that valley. A brief discussion confirmed the decision to have a go through the gorge. If we thought that we had been challenged previously during the day with our downhill navigation, the upper section of the gorge certainly challenged us in a different way. Upper thigh-deep water had us shuffling with care, and several deep defiles had us scrambling up to and along precipitous sidles clutching with white knuckles to tenuous bits of vegetation. We were as much out of the watercourse as in it. The downstream section of the gorge was comfortable water course travel. A stop for some energy bites and a drink at the Phillips Stream crossing allowed us to psych ourselves up for the familiar plod up and down the access road to the car, and thereby end an eleven hour plus day. It was a special day adventuring in an area not commonly visited by many outdoors people.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock; Colin Cook; Craig Morrison