It was not the weather for a river trip, so instead of going to the end of Mill Road and walk down river to Khyber Pass, we took the Kashmir Road turn off and drove up to Moorcock Saddle. Peter kept the revs up and the van made it all the way there without stalling.
Misty weather suggested there would be little to view from the tops so all decided to walk into Awatere Hut; 5 in the first group and 3 amblers. It took around 90 minutes for the amblers to get to Awatere Hut, having taken time to enjoy the scenery and attempting (unsuccessfully) to call in a fernbird which was right beside the track. The others weren’t at the hut so they had a little rest before heading downstream to view Black Stag Hut. Just downstream from Awatere Hut they met the others and the discussion was raised about if some wanted to climb up to Longview Hut by following the Makaretu River North Branch up the valley as far as possible before then climbing out up a spur and sliding around a large slip to get to Longview Hut.
Looking at a map this seems a simple enough idea and while parts looked to be steep, nothing unreasonable, so 5 of us set off. Heading up the river valley was straight forward, the river was low meaning you were able to cross back and forth without getting your boot wet and there were no major obstacles blocking our path. We made good time as we climbed upwards, following the main branch. The weather was overcast with a bit of a breeze until we reached the fork which would lead towards the base of the slip, then we started to get occasional light shower. Heading up towards the large slip the valley grew significantly narrower, we found ourselves climbing over boulders and rocks which had started to become slippery and unstable at times, progress was slower due to this. Looking up the sides of the valley as we continued upwards no simple way to climb up either side presented itself. It had been around 3 hours since the start of the trip and we have covered around 7 km.
On the right hand side of the valley there was a small grassy slip which we decided to clamber up to get out of the valley and make progress to get onto the ridge. The top of the small slip led us into bush which at times was thick but still allowed us to progress slowly. Thanks to GPSs (1 GPS and a cellphone with Topo maps app) we were able to continue upwards through the bush and eventually broke out into light scrub where we stopped for a break to snack and regain energy, we would going to need for the next part. From here it was a short climb which took us to the top of the ridge but then into very dense scrub.
At this point progress slowed to crawl as we attempted to bush bash our way through, we were unable to head directly directly towards Longview and instead initially drifted westward trying to find ways forward, at time we would hit deer trails or a small stream bed which would allow us to progress faster but generally it was forcing our way through thick scrub, at time having to double back at points due to the scrub being impassable. We eventually made it to Longview Hut, however the last 2 km had taken about 2h and 45 minutes, (9 km, roughly 5h 15 mins total) the weather had also started to deteriorate as we reached the hut with mist reducing visibility and rain starting to come down in heavier waves.
We had a short lunch break in the hut before heading off back toward Moorcock Saddle grateful to have a clear and marked path before us. The path down was muddy and slippery underfoot at times, and the wind strong enough to have the rain falling horizontal at times but not enough to hamper progress downwards. We finally made it back to the van rather damp with the rain chasing us downhill, 14 km and 7 hours 10 minutes later.
While the first party made their way towards Longview the amblers viewed Black Stag and returned back to Awatere Hut for a leisurely morning tea. Around 11 o’clock they started on the return journey to Moorcocks Saddle and as they got near the top of the climb up from the river they could see Brent’s fluoro orange raincoat in the river below. They were back at the van by 12 to have their lunch after which Peter had a snooze and Anne and Glenda did a bit of separate sight seeing.
Glenda walked 30 minutes up the track towards Longview, enjoying having the time to have a really good look around. Unsure of which way the first party would return she did not conitue up to meet them. So all three amblers were back at the van by around 1.30 hoping the other party would turn up in the next hour or so. However it was just on 4 when they did arrive along with some torrential rain; Cyclone Gabrielle was arriving. Worried about the road down, we tried to rush them into the van as fast as possible (a bit like herding cats) but even so Peter had to negotiate his way down Kashmir Road which was rapidly changing to the Kashmir Stream.
NW & GH
Awatere/Longview party: Brent H, Colin J, Jude H, Nic W, Simon W.
Awatere Party: Peter B, Anne D, Glenda H.