Sparrowhawk Bivvy and Gold Creek Ridge Track  

 27 August

Gold Creek Ridge:

The van left Pukahu at 7 AM with 8 on board and travelled to Waipawa where we were to pick up Murry.  After parking out the front of the BP Station for about 20 minutes a phone call to Robyn alerted us to the fact that she and Murry  were waiting at the other end of the petrol station for us.

We then all made our way through to Glenny Road where we had gotten permission from the landowners to park and make our way across their land to the  DOC boundary.  

As we started walking a  watery sunshine and a fabulous rainbow enthralled us.  We all walked down to the Makaroro River, which was quite low, and followed it upstream for a while.  Some of us were clever enough to bash through the willows on the right bank and not get our boots wet – others were not so clever.  We said goodbye to Simon’s Sparrowhawk crew and started up the very steep hillside  following markers along the fenceline.  This section of the track climbs about  200 vertical metres over half a kilometre.

Once we crossed over the fence into  DOC land   the gradient was much gentler as we made our way up through the very diverse bush.  In the trees we could hear whiteheads and greywarblers while the occasional Kereru flew over but very few tui were noted.   As with many Ruahine tracks the fungi and moss are  significant features but unfortunately we were too early for the native orchids.

Three of our party climbed down to Gold Creek hut for lunch while the other three stayed up on the ridge, had their lunch and returned back to the van by 3 PM.  Two of the hut party returned just before 4 PM  (Robyn was staying  at the hut for the night)  while the Sparrowhawk group were half an hour later.

Sparrowhawk Bivvy:

This is the first time going up the Sparrowhawk track for all of us which starts on the western side of Gold Creek, metres away from the Makaroro river. The track climbs quickly, narrowing with a steep slip on the Gold creek side and a steep bush clad slope on the Makaroro side.

The tramp started in drizzly conditions with cloud hiding the tops. The first quarter of the track is quite dry but the higher we go the wetter & more slippery the track gets. There is the odd tree blown down across the track, forcing us to detour slightly and the views if any were fleeting. Three & half hours later we’re again traversing a steep & very narrow ridge with a shingle scree on one side and steep bushy face on the other. But within minutes we broke out into a flatish and sheltered hollow where a two person bivy stands all painted in orange.

There was still some small patches of snow around and we needed to get inside the bivvy to shelter from the sleety showers and cold westerly winds. The biyvy has a small enclosed porch with earth floor, a very small bench seat on one side and work bench on the other.

After a quick lunch break we headed out and up a small slippery track to the top of the ridge where the cold wind seems to penetrate even through our wet weather gear. Again another fleeting view to the west through the ranges amongst the low cloud and a picture or two to say we were mad enough to be up here.

We then got a move on and headed back to where it’s not quite so cold. Maybe there will be another time when we can retrace our steps in warm, sunny conditions. However, all returned to the starting point in one piece, but a little weary.

Glenda H, Peter B, Susan L, Murry A, Robyn W, Janice L, Simon W, Flynn G,  Clint B and Nic W.

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