Not a good spur - High Ridge MF
30 September 2015
A signpost on the Holdsworth Track above Powell Hut marks the High Ridge turn-off. A tramping track of sorts runs roughly southwest more than four kilometres all the way along its crest to Flaxy Knob from where a spur leads down to the Waiohine Bridge and Totara Flats Hut. A reasonable day’s tramp from Holdsworth road end. The aim of our day trip was to gain High Ridge below the bush line and follow it back up to rejoin the Holdsworth Track. To make our loop as short as possible1 and to minimise the loss of height from Pig Flat we took the old track down to Totara Creek, crossed it and started climbing immediately.
Not a good spur2. Poorly defined at its base with small heavily vegetated channels and banks. Too much choice for the way up, none appealing. Without a well defined crest, animal trails were hard to find and did not persist; windfalls and thickets abounded. Small but steep sided waterways carved into the spur at irregular angles causing our route to zig-zag. Higher up where the vegetation became shrubby we found ourselves pushing through a sort of horopito swamp. Higher still, near the top, in a necessary compensation for the several flat sections below, the spur morphed into a face steep enough to be unstable – for trampers and for trees too going by the amount of windfall.
We topped out in goblin forest near Bump 1134. Beyond, to avoid leatherwood, the track back north east drops just below the ridge line on the east side for a while before reaching the tussock where a bracing wind harried us on our way to the track junction above Powell.
Study of the topo map might have warned of the shortcomings of our route – but still, a good day out on a somewhat unyielding spur.
1 It still ended up a 19km, 1800m elevation gain sort of a day. 2 A spur is a lateral ridge connecting to a larger ridge that divides major watersheds. A good spur has a well defined crest, so trampers know when they are on or near it. It should carry the right mix of vegetation: neither kiekie nor supplejack belts in its lower reaches; higher up open forest without windfall or baby beech or mingmingi, and still higher a lack of leatherwood at the bush line fringes. It may not be too steep and ideally carries a well trodden animal trail along its full length. Nor should it harbour deep saddles. Demanding criteria and spurs failing in one department might still be called ‘good’
- Party members
- Joan Basher, Robin Chesterfield, Colin Cook (leader and scribe), Warwick Wright