Posts Tagged ‘Didymo’

After a day’s rest we planned to switch valleys again, this time into the South Branch of the Temple River by way of a rather steep pass, slick with a thin layer of fresh snow.  The weather chose our side this time and we set off nice and early in two groups making our way up the slope.  The terrain switched from unstable scree to wet snow grass to alpine meadow within two kilometers.

In the snow meadow, I felt as if the sun tried to burn me from every angle possible as it shone brightly above, below, and to the sides.  Go sunglasses!  Eventually, we made it to the pass where the others had scouted before and we looked for the best way down.  The sun had melted the snow significantly so we had to look for avalanche danger.

Looking into the Temple Valley was another completely different system than the Ahuriri and the Dingle Burn.  The panoramas stretched out in 360 degrees.  The first part of the descent was the most fun because we butt slid about halfway down the snowy section since the angle was not harmful.  We went to an outcropping of rocks that poked out like a sore thumb to pick the best route to continue.  The butt slide also took considerably less time and impacted the sore knees the least.

Pausing at the rock outcropping, we heard a crashing sound to the right and we looked over to see a huge boulder let loose and tumble down faster and faster to the valley floor.  Looking at each other, we all put helmets on since we had them, we thought we might as well.  Then we continued down the snow for a while trying to stay out of the rockfall line.

At the end of the snow, we couldn’t break in steps and all of us ended up self arresting, then controlled sliding down to the scree.

South Branch Temple Valley, from where the snow ended.

Relieved, we walked until we found the first stream and began to clean our boots off with salt water to prevent the spread of didymo.  There, we took a break for snacks as well since we only had one brush for five of us.

From there, we had to rock hop down to the x we made on the map near a small tarn tucked into bush.  I found this infinitely amusing to bounce around on the rocks for a few kilometers, but the others weren’t too thrilled, so we proceeded steadily, but slowly.  The sun blazed on making us pretty hot and the heat seemed to move off of the rocks toward us.

In not too long a time, we ran into the other group lounging on their packs near the river by the x.  Bad news: the small tarn had absolutely nowhere to camp by it.  Option 1: camp near the river, but be completely exposed to the wind.  Option 2: hike another 5 or 6 kilometers to the hut that we had planned to hit the next day.  Terrified on the bad wind we had encountered before, we went with option 2.

Haley had a stomach ache, Tracy’s knees were killing her, and James’ ankle was doing ok but not 100%.  Since, according to the map, the trail did not go as far up as we were, we decided to follow the river down the half a kilometer or so to the track.  That was a small lapse of judgement on our part.  We should have scouted a bit around, since from our previous experience, the tracks tend to go further than the map depicts.

Anyway, we decided to basically walk through the river since it was only about mid-calf to knee-deep and not moving too fast.  We could see the ground the whole time.  It also gave us some heat relief since the water pretty much came from just melted snow.  Our idea had been to follow along the side of the river, but the bush was so thick that it literally pushed us into the river.

Not too far down however, we ran into another problem: the river got deeper, faster, and had a few drops which were not easy to navigate on foot with a large pack on.  Into the bush we went!  Throwing ourselves into it and using the vegetation to pull ourselves up, we dove in for a good old-fashioned messy bushwhack, sweating our asses off.  The plants poked and prodded us for 45 minutes and left annoying ankle and sometimes leg twisting holes unseen until you stepped in and yelped “HOLE!”

Finally, when everyone’s wits started to go, we spotted a track marked by a single metal pole and we made our way there by forcefully barreling through the vegetation since we had no other choice.  We did run into our old friends the matagouri and the spaniards a few times where nothing but curses flew.

Sitting by the post, happy with our efforts, Christian and Andy suddenly popped up out of nowhere.

“How long did it take you guys to get here?” one of them asked.

“About 45 minutes to an hour,” someone answered gulping down water.

“Hmmm, it took us 8 minutes,” Andy said looking at his watch laughing.

“Yeah, you guys should have scouted – the track picked up from the tarn a bit back,” Christian laughed with him.

Whoops.  Well, that was fun.  From there, we followed the track as much as possible which became harder at sometimes than others since the river had taken a few chunks out of it in some places.  Another fun challenge was that the trail had been changed, but some of the old markers remained leading us down deserted paths.

After a few crosses of the river, we came across one challenging spot where we reasoned and scouted for about 15 minutes before we found a suitable spot.  We also went for another small bushwhack by accident following the old markers by mistake, but we eventually got to camp laughing about our adventure around 6:30 pm or so, immediately sitting down to cook dinner since our stomachs raged after our fun-filled day.

The pass we went through, looking back at the head of the Ahuriri Valley

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