Labour Weekend trip to Lake Angelus
Labour Weekend 2015
This was an easy-medium trip to Nelson Lakes National Park, initially going to Speargrass Hut, and then over to Angelus Hut. But Saturday morningís windless blue dome day changed our minds to going along the Robert Ridge directly.
The 2.15 pm Interislander sailing was 45 minutes late. Nothing unusual there. We drove to St Arnaud and stayed the night in the Nelson Lakes Motelís Backpackers house. Packed, but comfortable.
Next morning we went up the Pinch-gut zig-zag to the Robert Ridge. This is where most of the climb is. The ridge track passes four basins to the south, the first containing the old Nelson Ski Club lodges, now deserted. We were overflown twice by a glider launched from the St Arnaud airstrip. There was still a lot of snow around from the cold spring, and great views out over the Nelson area. It was slow and rough going in places though, because of the extra snow.
An enormous number of people passed us going in, and a number escaping before the hordes descended. I took a short cut down a scree slope just before the hut, forgetting that just because I could go down scree slopes, that didnít mean that others in the party could do it too. Something for me to remember for next time.
We finally reached Angelus Hut about 5.30 pm. Brian had gone on ahead to negotiate bunks in the hut for the three of us, as we were without a tent. This he managed successfully. The hut was very full, with all 28 bunks taken and some double-bunking. Though those with tents stayed outside, there were 16 sleeping on the floor. Possibly a record, and underlining the attraction of the Angelus area.
DOC insists people going to Angelus between 28 November and 30 April pre-book. But that didnít happen at Labour Weekend, and there was no warden.
Next morning after a good nightís rest, Brian and I explored Hinapouri Tarn, and Sunset Saddle below Mt Angelus. Various people crossed over the Saddle to Hopeless Creek. We came back to the hut for lunch. Brian and Christine went out to look over the tarns after lunch. Sunday night was much less crowded, with many people having moved on, and many spare bunks.
Next day our first visitor, at about 8 a.m. was a woman jogger who had jogged in from St Arnaud. Shows how remoteness has shrunk with mountain runners and the like. Most of the others in the hut left for the Mt Robert carpark, via Speargrass Stream, to get back for work on Tuesday morning.
We gloated as we had allowed an extra day and werenít due out til Tuesday night. Hukere Stream is one of the nicest ways into/out-of the Angelus basin. So I was very happy, on this perfect day to go down it to the Travers Valley track. It is steep at first, and slow going on the few snowy frozen spots. We had been told that the DOC bridge had been swept away in a flood. We crossed downstream from this below the narrow part where the bridge span had been, and where the stream was more easily crossed. DOC had still not replaced the bridge, but the original one had been helicoptered to the flat before the track goes into the bush.
Hukere Stream itself disappears from time to time under huge scree slopes that come down on the northern side of the stream. Lower down, near the Travers Valley there had been massive damage by a windstorm, with beech trees knocked down everywhere. DOC contractors must have spent many hours chain-sawing the track clear.
It was only about an hour from the Hukere Stream bridge at the Travers Valley track to Coldwater Hut. However we were back in sandfly country and windows etc had to be kept shut.
We relaxed and watched the water-fowl waiting where the Travers River enters Lake Rotoiti. Obviously the river carries many titbits from upriver, attractive to them. Black swans, paradise ducks and other ducks and even some trout, fed happily.
Tuesday dawned fine again, and we were soon away around the western side of the lake on our way back to the Mt Robert Carpark. First it was the 40 metre Whiskey Falls. Then the track swung inland back up to the carpark. As we got back to the car, spots of rain began. And we went back to Picton to catch the Ferry home, after a very enjoyable trip.
- Party members
- Hugh Barr (leaderand scribe), Brian Hasell, Christine Leighs