Hanmer Base Camp

31 Aug – 2 Sept 2012

Once more back to the Forest Trust Camp in Jollie’s Pass Rd, for a winter base camp, though a week later than planned because the camp suggested we wouldn’t enjoy the earlier weekend with the rest of the camp booked out by a rugby club from Christchurch.

The camp was expecting trouble. Base camps are usually interesting logistical exercises and this base camp wasn’t any different when it came to transport. Car pooling was minimal. Anyway, we ended up with 14 people on Friday night and 16 on Saturday night, which made for a sociable weekend. Since we were there last, the progressive upgrade of the camp had continued, with new ladies shower nd toilet block, plus the men’s toilets. The men’s showers will be rebuilt. The new facilities have in-floor heating, no less—oh, the luxury!

The weekend forecast was for NW winds and that was pretty much as it was—pleasant down at the camp and moderately strong over the top ridges. On Saturday morning we had two groups: Merv’s, driving over Jack’s Pass to walk up to Fowler Pass and up to Mt Seymour and Glenda’s walking from the camp, up Jollie’s Pass Rd and up the ridge toward Isobel. The trip to Seymour had been suggested by Trevor Blogg as a rewarding change from Isobel, Dumblane, Charon, etc. and so it was. Away from the camp first at 8.35am to drive the 33km to the heritage Fowler Hut, the group included Trevor B, Carolyn C, Chrys H, Merv M, John R, Jane S and Shane W. Up to Fowler Pass at 1296m was straightforward with snow remnants starting from about halfway up. From the pass, Pass Spur ascends east, then north-east. In firm snow and a steadily increasing NW, we were now getting sunnier skies. Before the somewhat steeper ridge to Seymour, crampons seemed a good idea, but Murphy then dictated that the surface was easy from there on. From Seymour at 1793m, a wide, easy ridge runs north to point 1810m and on to Blue Mountain at 1745m. It would have been well worth the trundle on a less windy day, but we retreated instead, back down to the pass for a late lunch. We also noted the spur running down south of Seymour Stream, as a possible future round trip. Back at Fowler Hut at 2.35pm, the sunshine and a light breeze was too good not to stretch out on the grass for a while.

Meanwhile, Glenda and Marion’s group enjoyed the walk around Jollies Pass Road, albeit mostly in cloudy conditions. The group continued up the spur to Isobel in windy conditions, with Keith, Marion and Mary going to the top and the others part way for a sheltered lunch stop. By 4pm, both groups were back at the camp, with plenty of time for afternoon tea, showers, etc, before progressing into early evening drinks and nibbles, leading into the inevitable, indulgent Saturday night dinner.

Sunday’s trip was different, too. A few weeks before, Bruce Cameron had phoned suggesting a farm-based trip onto the Amuri Range. It seemed ideal for a Sunday trip on the way home, so Bruce set it up with the farmer at Polo Hills Station. After the usual Sunday morning clean-up at the camp, the whole group, less Bill B and Pauline Hill, departed and drove up Leslie Hills Rd to the station. Don, the farmer, was there to meet us at his shearing shed at 10.30am, as arranged. He was very obliging; showing me on the map, the best round circuit to do on his farm tracks. It was ideal, ascending to the Amuri ridge at 800m not far west of Mt Paul for a lunch stop looking down into the Hanmer River and The Hossack. The return was west along the ridge to Lyndon Pass and back down another track to the farm yard about 4.30pm.

We couldn’t help being dispirited by the wilding pine situation in the area. Pines from Hanmer Forest to the NW, have smothered the higher ground with now mature trees and they continue to encroach further down the slopes of Don’s farmland. There’s no easy answer, except for a ‘Flock Hill’ tactic of nibbling at the lower extremities to try to contain the spread. After a warm sunny day in a different area, we went our separate ways after another enjoyable Hanmer Base. We were: Maureen Anderson, Bill Blake, Trevor Blogg, Carolyn Catt, Pauline Hill, Chrys Horn, Mary McKeown, Keith & Marion McQuillan, Glenda & Merv Meredith, Keith Paterson, John Robinson, Jane Swift, Maureen Thompson & Shane Wright.

Oh and the rugby club from Christchurch? Yes, they were as bad or worse that the camp managers expected—drunken slobs who left the camp in a mess. The club is now permanently banned from the camp.