A splendid circuit – Easter 25-28 March 2016
Eight keen trampers left our meeting point at the junction of Schultz Road and SH6 at 8am and headed off to Windy Point in the Lewis Pass. After a quick bite to eat most of us were off up the lower Hope Valley while the drivers took advantage of the secure parking and shuttle service offered by the staff at the Boyle Lodge. This was a reassuring decision since three cars left in the Windy Point carpark had apparently been done over just a few weeks previously. The two drivers managed to catch up to the rest of the party having lunch on the side of the pleasant walking track through beech forest up the lower Hope Valley. We reached our proposed destination, Hope Halfway Hut by 2.30pm, found it full of hunters and all decided to proceed on to St Jacobs Hut, another three hours walk up the valley. St Jacobs Hut had a couple of spare bunks which two of our party used while the others found good tent sites under the nearby beech trees.
On Saturday morning we moved camp an hour further upstream to the junction of the Hope River with Pussy Stream. With just our day packs we continued up the Hope Valley, past the Top Hope Hut to Hot Spring Stream. The hot springs are about a half hour walk up the stream. Partway up the stream we met a party of young Americans from the National Outdoor Leadership School. They had just received nine days food for the next stage of their 24 day tramp and were heading off-track up to the Nelson Tops with heavy packs. We easily found the hot springs (GR:1529746E, 5284489N) with two young Americans already enjoying their spa bath. The springs are about 320 m further upstream than marked on most maps. We managed to fit most of the party into this very hot and pleasant spa bath. Extra cold water can be added if you have the time and patience to alter the water flows. After our spa we headed back to camp arriving back around 5 30pm.
Sunday morning and we had broken camp by 8.30am. We climbed up and over logs in Pussy Stream counting the number of side streams along the way to make sure that we didn’t miss our ridge track out of the stream. There was some debate over what was marked as a stream on the map and soon it was proven that only the larger ones actually mattered. The first track up a ridge proved to be bypassing a small gorge and we found the correct ridge well marked with a large orange DOC track marker. DOC track markers are spaced very economically up the stream! The track up the ridge proved steep and slow going but not as bad as was described by two hunters we met at Halfway Hut, who seemed to delight in trying to put us off even attempting this track. By midday we were near the saddle and we sheltered from the cold and damp westerly wind on the southern and more sheltered side of the saddle for a lunch break. After lunch we headed down through the sub-alpine scrub to the Lake Man Biv. We were pleasantly surprised to find no one else there and even more surprised to find flat enough spaces for six of us to camp nearby. By the time we had set up camp the weather had cleared and we set off up to Lake Man. The route chosen was unfortunately through a bit of sub-alpine scrub. Lake Man is a very attractive small lake in an alpine setting. We were able to find a much easier way down by via a strip of swampy tussock to the beech forest and through to the Biv.
Monday saw us away again at 8.30 am and down to the Doubtful Hut by lunchtime. This old hut is certainly one which could benefit from some renovation, but according to the hut book someone seems to be planning to repair the collapsed chimney in the future. Around 3pm we were across the Doubtful River and had picked up the new Tui Trail which is part of the Te Araroa Trail. Our volunteer runner changed his mind and we all walked back along this new track to the Boyle Lodge arriving 4.30pm. The last 1.2 km of this track is along the road edge, rather disappointing, when it could go through the forest.
A stop in Murchison saw us all replenished and we arrived home safely around 8 30pm. On the trip were Chris, Jo, Rob, Maria, Robert, Anja, Joy and Ken.