Goat Stream Spur – South Saddle Medium trip
6 Dec, 2017
Club trips to South Saddle in recent years have been battered by wind, with trip members having to crawl and drag themselves over to the Matthews Track, hats flying down into the Mukamuka, never to be seen again.
A big November – December high brought drought and unusually high temperatures to most of the country, but also peace and calm to South Saddle. Despite stinking hot conditions, twelve of us were able to sit on the saddle and enjoy one of the best sweeping views in the Rimutakas.
It was hot already when we left Catchpool at 8.30 along the Orongorongo River Track and then up the river towards the Goat Stream spur. Unfortunately, a loose river rock rolled underfoot, flinging one of our party forward onto another rock, causing a nasty gaping facial wound. Dave Reynolds is currently a paramedic with the Wellington Free Ambulance and Linda Beckett has mountains of experience as an ED nurse, and between the two of them our patient was thoroughly triaged, cleaned and steristripped and was quite happy to continue the trip.
The spur is steep, close to vertical, much of the way up to a small flat area at about 500m. From there, a number of markers assisted our sidle towards the saddle, although they disappointingly petered out with 20m to go. The choices were to drop down into the grass/open treescape below, which has worked before, or to persist through scratchy scrub to the saddle, which was the most sensible option at the time, with Mike already almost there and the saddle so close.
The Matthews Track is steep as, and extra care was required on our descent in the very dry conditions, which resisted our grip underfoot, indeed the whole area requires agility. A stunning purple orchid stood out from the dust (where was orchid-whiz Lynne Pomare when we needed her?). There was some relief at reaching the bottom and a chance to play like kids in the cool of Matthews Stream. A green slime has taken residence in much of the Orongorongo River, with very little clear space for a dip, although some of us tried. It was just so hot, with a 30 degree temperature forecast for 4 p.m. Despite all the lemon juice water I’d brought, I personally felt knocked flat by the heat. It was nice to get back to the cars and actually sit down. Beer was the main topic of conversation. Rain dances look to be the best option for the near future.
- Party members
- Mike Arnold, Peter Barber, Linda Beckett, Trish Gardiner-Smith, Carolyn Jenkins, Marg Pearce, Cathy Milne, Peter Morten, Marg Pearce (leader and scribe), Dave Reynolds, Peter Smith, Christine Whiteford