Boulder Col, Rakaia

27–28 Feb 2010

Leader: Kerry Moore, with Honora Renwick & Frank King, and Dan Pryce (author).

After a leisurely 10am Sat morning meeting at Frank and Honora’s place, we set off on the long drive via Rakaia Gorge up the dusty road to Glenfalloch Station via Double Hill farm,

which we inadvertently visited as Kerry’s cerebral GPS was in “sleep mode” and we missed a turnoff. We managed to get a few km past Glenfalloch on the very bumpy track, then set off on a blue-sky, hot 28º day, over a low rise down to the sparkling blue Rakaia. We met a family visiting from the Waikato and farm-staying at Glenfalloch. With the teenage girls swimming and the boys up-river fishing, we chatted with the parents, then headed up the broad Rakaia into a freshening nor-wester with 4 or 5 river crossings up to Thompsons Hut. We enjoyed the spectacular view of the Rakaia headwaters, with its glaciers and to our left, the Arrowsmith Range. Locating the hut was a bit of a mission as it’s set well into 2m high scrub. It is a crude corrugated iron structure but pleasantly rustic and tidy. If it was a DoC hut it would have a 1 ticket rating. Two young hunters were in residence but intended to move to the Banfield, CMC Hut further on. They were one day into a week-long trip hunting chamois and thar.

After a sustaining “Kerry’s curry” and velvet smooth custard for dinner we contemplated and appreciated the magnificent full moon, then turned in for an early night. It was just as well the hut was sturdy and we elected to stay indoors as the gusty wind throughout the night would have been interesting to deal with in a tent. As it was, the hut fair rattled and banged all night, so none of us slept well.

We were up at dawn and away by 7.30 am for the 1300m climb up to Boulder Col via Washbourne Creek, happy to be carrying only a day pack. The wind had dropped away so was ideally cool and overcast. While picking our way up, the col was a far-away rocky and rugged place. At an awkward section Honora and Frank elected to sidle high while Kerry and Dan stayed in the creek. We spotted two chamois, curious as to why we were there. By late morning the temperature had risen so the day was promising to be another warm one and we were in the lea of the NWer. We re-grouped on the col for a good break, enjoying the amazing view over the col to nearby rugged 2500m peaks of the wild Arrowsmith Range with Gridiron, Jagged and Assault glaciers looking down on the Jagged Stream headwaters. At the head of Jagged valley is Peg Col which leads to the upper Cameron Valley.

We enjoyed a late morning tea and Honora’s stories of her adventures on the Mongolian steppes. On the Jagged side of our col the wind was brisk and cool. We set off and were soon sliding and scraping our way 500 metres down to Jagged Stream over scree and rock in clouds of dust and flying stones. Then came the hot, sweaty trek down to Banfield Hut, sidling across the tough scrub and spear-grass. At the hut we met up with our hunting friends who, that morning had shot a chamois and gave us a hind leg as they had more than they could eat. We shared tales of great hunts and adventure hikes in the Canterbury hills.

We wished the boys well for the rest of their week and set off for Thompsons Hut to collect our gear and trek out with the NW breeze behind us. Linking up for the Rakaia crossings made the task a lot easier, proving the strength of river team-work.

At almost 7pm Kerry suggested that if we dawdled for another half hour we could claim a 12 hr day! We ignored him as we strode briskly back to the car. On the long drive home Frank told us, as we passed Mt Hutt of the time he cycled out from Chch, climbed Hutt and biked back in a day—pretty impressive. Thanks to Kerry for an interesting adventure in the company of fine companions. (DP)