Youngman Stream Hut

28 & 29 Sept 2013

Memories of a rough vehicle track from the Lees Valley road to the track-start made me request cars with high ground clearance and luckily for us Rick and Calum obliged with 4wds. The cars splashed through muddy puddles without too much drama on the well-rutted track. The day was fine but rain was predicted with a southerly change. Stock yards with a high fence and padlocked gate force trampers to divert towards the river to cross a stile. From the stile we picked our way up through matagouri to get onto the vehicle track that leads to Lillburn Stream.

The Lillburn was fairly full and a bit turbid as we crossed carefully in fours. The track on the Ashley River terraces was sodden and muddy. We had an early lunch near Tent Gully Stream, harassed by sandflies. Wading up the Ashley was not an option so we took the bush track which starts at TG Stream. Track work had been done with a brush cutter but bigger storm damage blocked the track in places slowing our group. The track gets up to 200m above the Ashley River then descends to the hut. A tree near the river shows reinforcing where a three-wire bridge once crossed. Dan, the birthday boy, found a good crossing point to wade four plus four. We walked down-river a little to get onto the track that leads to the hut just 100m away. As we crossed the river a gentle rain started to fall. The “morning” southerly arrived at 4pm and we were pleased to be at the six-bunk Youngman Stream Hut.

Re-hydration and sustenance with tea/coffee, soups and later macaroni and cheese, then coconut custard on gingernuts revived us. Calum assembled wood and Pat lit the fire to make the hut more cosy. Pat provided a copy of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner which we took turns at reading half of, before we skipped to the end—the bird died, the bride cried. High quality drinking water pattered on the roof as we read, “water water everywhere nor any drop to drink” at which point everyone chimed in with this familiar line. Singing from song sheets was our next entertainment though the sheets are sadly lacking in Polish songs. Dorota needs to supply some. The thought of losing an hour with the switch to daylight-saving had people shuffling off to bed at 9:30.

In the morning any thought of climbing up to Tarn Hut and completing a high circuit was dispelled by light rain and low cloud. A dusting of snow was visible on higher forest. Marching on a good breakfast we seemed to cover the bush track with more ease than we had the day before. The rain stopped, coats came off and we crossed the Lillburn—still high. A kilometer up-valley it was drizzling. We reached the cars with our coats on. Our drivers were anxious to cross the vehicle track to the road, fearing that the overnight rain would have swelled the muddy puddles. We splashed through without getting bogged and the Lees Valley road seemed like a speedway by comparison. The customary coffees were had in Oxford and we drove home on dry road—back by 4:30 or was it really 5:30?

The weather forecast deterred two sign-ons from going but Calum & Pat McIntosh, Dorota Giejsztowt, Evelyn Barben, Rick Harlow, Joy Schroeder, Dan Pryce and Kerry Moore braved the conditions with no regrets. (KM)