Goat Pass – Lake Mavis – Edwards

27- 29 Dec 2013

Six of us gathered at Penny’s place on the Fri morning and after careful deliberation decided not to attempt the scheduled Five Pass trip. Five of us were keen to do a shorter trip in Arthur’s Pass NP as we thought the weather would hold out for three days. With food and gear reapportioned for two nights we set off in Penny’s roomy vehicle and parked at Greyneys in fine conditions. Rivers were at low flow and we made good time, though this was a snail’s pace for Penny who would have breezed over this terrain in former times, unencumbered with a weekend pack. We had a brief stop on Dudley Knob and a longer one at Mingha Biv at which Milan shared cherries around. You don’t get cherries on a winter trip! Care was taken not to leave the stones where they could compete with the local vegetation. Goat Pass Hut was occupied by a father and daughter team and a young American guy. Another couple came later. We whiled away the time with sudokus, comparing notes on GPS models, reading hut literature and playing Zilch. Penny had brought 6 dice along and taught us to play. You score off ones and fives and three of a kind. You need to balance restraint with daring; too much greed and you can blow what points you’ve earned. Dinner featured gnocchi, a cut above common old macaroni and definitely better than the 2-min noodles the American had. We turned in before it got dark, anticipating a longer hike next day.

Saturday dawned cool with mist on the tops. The father and daughter team headed for Lake Mavis a short time ahead of us and we arrived at the lake as they were leaving. Getting back on the spur that led to the clouded-in ridge that contains Mt Oates we caught the others up and conferred. Both teams were studying GPSs carefully. We were keen not to climb the gnarly part of the spur and chose to sidle a good distance until finally the west-leading ridge appeared in the murk. We walked west a way and then down some useful scree. Danny and Kerry made the most of little snow patches to “ski” down. We stopped to regroup and have a bite to eat where the stream showed signs of becoming gorged. Keeping left in the valley that leads down to Taruahuna Pass we picked up cairns that followed the 1400m contour. Father and daughter went right to T Pass so they could go up to Tarn Col and then to Hawdon Hut but we were keen to get off the Fallen Mountain rubble heap. We had the official lunch amidst Mt Cook lilies as we reached the Edwards track.

Following the river down for nearly 7km we arrived at an empty Edwards Hut. With rain threatening Penny went to the edge of the beech forest and retrieved wood so she could light the stove. Milan produced cheese and crackers for a pre-dinner snack and dinner was a delicious venison stew that Julie cooked up. Danny and Kerry played 500 with one of the many card packs in the hut, then the whole crew had a game of Zilch which Penny won convincingly.

In the morning we headed down-river with coats on but warm humidity soon had us shedding them. 1km from the hut we were treated to a close-up view of a pair of blue ducks that were unconcerned by us camera-clicking spectators. We had a snack break on river flats where the track diverts into the bush to avoid a gorgy last section of Edwards River. Soon after our stop we were back to the Mingha and then the car at Greyneys. At Arthurs we visited DoC HQ and some had coffee at the shop after seeing that the Wobbly Kea was too busy on this fine Sunday.

We were: Penny Webster (leader) Julie Wagner, Milan Brisnik, Danny Lee and Kerry Moore (KM)