Ohau Aquatics and Deception Spur
17 December 2014
The closest approach to being in paradise might be walking up the Ohau River. One could become lyrical about the enticing deep pools of clear water, toetoe-lined terraces, a new vista at each bend of bush, gorge or wide valley. The only thing missing was sunshine.
The idea was to traverse Deception Spur. This was a principal route to the Mangahao Valley until the devastation of the 1936 storm. We decided on an indirect anti-clockwise approach, ascending an unknown adjacent spur to the south, via the South Ohau River to pt. 865, then descending Deception Spur. We knew it had a track of sorts, hence easier route-finding than going clockwise and descending by the unknown spur to the South Ohau River.
The track from Poads Road end brought us to the Blackwater Creek bridge in just over an hour. Bill led us to a pleasant grassy spot overlooking the river for morning tea. An aquatic phase of two hours of innumerable crossings followed. The Ohau was straightforward but the bouldery gorge section of the South Ohau slowed us a bit. The healthy flow might have been a legacy from the floods of the previous week. At the first stream on the true right, '1st lunch' was declared, as this gave a promising start to our unknown spur. After initial avoidances of kiekie, this spur proved to be a delight, taken slowly all the way over .660 and a couple of more elevated bumps. A cold wind hurried us through '2nd lunch'. The spur showed no sign of a track or markers and the bush, with crown fern and native grasses, was easy to get through. Travel time from leaving the river to .865 was two hours (excluding the lunch break), but this point is hard to define as the ridgeline is elongated and level. We found a cairn and three painted tin lids nailed to a tree in the vicinity, but no sign of the Deception Spur track. In fact, Deception Spur was not obvious either. Eventually, Colin found the track by descending steeply, then sidling. John Thomson later confirmed he had the same problem: the track seemed to stop just short of the summit (see footnote). The spur is long and contains three minor saddles and all the way the track led unerringly onward. It was a joy to have such a downward cruise. However, David remembered our low-level kiekie skirmish in 2011 going up from the N/S Ohau forks, with no obliging track to be found. Sure enough, at the kiekie zone, the track vanished. Not enamoured with such entanglements, we dropped off to one side (almost literally at times), to find ourselves in the North Ohau River. In all, Deception Spur took us 2 hours 40 minutes (including the missing track delays at both ends).
Thereafter, more aquatics and the track to finish at dusk. We were tired but satisfied - a few minutes short of 11 hours. What a way to end the year of Wednesday trips! PR
Footnote from John Thomson - "We had had trouble on a Neil Challands trip coming up from the Mangahao once before in picking quite where Deception Spur starts ... so in 2011 I had taken those three orange discs you saw and a hammer and nailed the discs on (or near) a tree that already had two old yellow tapes tied around it: that was where, going up, we hit the top. But earlier, going the other way, we thought that the cairn 20 or 30 metres to the SW or S was a better indication of where the spur began. The fact is, and you report this too, there is just an indeterminate face at first until the spur becomes clear."
- Party members
- Joan Basher, Colin Cook, Tricia French, Peter Reimann (leader and scribe)), David Ogilvie, Bill Wheeler, Lynne White