An attractive bushwalk – Saturday 30 January 2016
This lovely bush walk is also part of the Te Araroa. The other trampers we talked with were walking the track as part of the trail as was the case with the people David Wheeler and I talked with when we’d reccied the trip a month previously. Because he and I had left town too late, at 8.30am, to actually get to the hut and back in reasonable time, today this group set out at 7.30am with me and some of the others very keen indeed to get all the way to Captains Creek Hut. It's a surprisingly long drive to the start of the track, turning right just before Pelorus Bridge and driving down the Maungatapu Road all the way to the end. It takes 1½ hours to get to the actual entrance to the Richmond Forest Park and be ready to actually start tramping. It feels as though it should be much closer to town than it is. The views of the Pelorus River from the Maungatapu Road are stunning as the water swishes and swirls along its rocky journey.
The first hour of the track is easy with a gentle walk through attractive bush beside the river. We then arrived at the beautiful Emerald Pool for morning tea. After that the track rises above the river significantly and must stay high until shortly before the hut as the hut itself is beside the river. It was hard to know how long it was going to take although the DOC sign at Emerald Pool said three hours. I’d hoped our tramping party would be quicker than that and there were no other signs further along the track to tell us how we were doing. Alas getting to Captains Creek hut eluded me again!
We were 2½ hours beyond Emerald Pool and still high above the river when one party member who had noticeably been a bit shaky on his pins, slipped on a wet rock, disorientated himself and thoroughly wet his clothes. The rest of the party were supportive, provided many helpful bits and pieces like a one square meal bar and a sachet of electrolyte powder to add to his drink bottle. Fortunately he had a swimming shirt to change into.
What would you do as trip leader do in a situation like that? There were eight of us in total, one of whom really wanted to be allowed to carry on to the hut. I suggested we have lunch a few metres along the track and was glad I’d reminded everyone to fill their water bottles down at Emerald Pool, as it was unlikely there would be any further water while we were up high (apart from slippery rocks). I felt distressed when I learnt this party member has high blood pressure and diabetes. It is important to let your trip leader know when you phone in, of any medical conditions which could cause a problem. I know scarcely anything about either of those and had I known, I would have swotted up or asked for some advice before setting out. My decision was for us all to return to the cars and forfeit getting to the hut. My reasoning was that a trip is only successful when all party members are out, as well as can be and all accounted for.
On the way back a number of our party enjoyed a swim in the refreshing green waters of the Emerald Pool and said the swim had made the trip for them. It was 6.30pm by the time we all arrived back in Nelson CBD – quite long enough, even on a pleasant and long summer day. I recommend this trip, when offered again, be as an overnighter. It's a lovely area and well worth that amount of time being spent there. For the purposes of anonymity I’ll omit the names of those who came on the trip. You know who you are, thanks for your support and company.
Alison Mountfort, leader and scribe.