Prout Stream ha ha
This was one of those ‘bite, chew, more than’ trips - of which the leader has led a few. It broke the day trip rule of thumb regarding sustained climbs: ‘one of course, two maybe, three Hmm!’ where a sustained climb is one of at least 300 m altitude gain (less if the climb is off track). Prout Stream was the scene of a famous rescue in 1957 when, on a Tong Young-led trip, the eponymous Ron Prout fell, suffering serious injury¹.
The idea of our trip had been to scout the upper reaches of the stream on the off chance of coming across the accident site, but, by the sheerest of coincidences, Franz Hubmann led a trip down almost the entire length of the stream the preceding weekend (9th-10th Feb.) leaving only a small section of stream, above the upper forks, unvisited. So on Wednesday the 13th this became our objective.
The access road has deteriorated considerably since a large slip cut off the last 200m however Robin coaxed his 4WD past the second gate to a point just beyond the start of the Panatewaewae Ridge Track. From there we walked up the river to the first major forks, about 40 minutes, and followed a well marked trail - lots of red tape and tin - to the ridgeline at about 700m altitude; then north east to .739 where the serious off track began.
The mist which had been with us from the start turned quite damp from about 500m elevation and we donned parkas - this while Wellington was heading for a 24°C day. The descent to the West Waitewaewae although a matter of only about 80m was much rougher than from the saddle a km to the south west. Our direction, east, seemed to be against the grain of the country and we had to fight our way down. From the river bed as Robin put it we “mountain climbed” our way up a vestigial spur comprising large roots, fallen trunks and holes until the going eased after about 100m ascent.
Lunching at .915 (rather than Prout Stream upper forks as optimistically intended by the leader) it was clear that the planned crossing of the stream to .1007 was not really on, especially if the descent and ascent were as rough as just experienced and even more especially because the leader felt in need of a new pair of legs. So we took the shortcut
Even so the circuit took more than seven hours to complete.
¹Merv Rogers trip report Tramper August 1986 pp. 7-10 and Footprints’. Tong once said he thought the stream should bear his name considering all the trouble it caused him.
- Party members
- Colin Cook (leader and scribe) and Robin Chesterfield.