Gloriana – Faerie Queene

11-13 November 2016

The Gloriana – Faerie Queene jinx struck again! The adverse long weekend weather forecast showed a possible easing on our Saturday climbing day so we set off with only one person withdrawing. By the time we left the shuttle from Boyle Lodge, that easing had vanished but we were committed, so it was parkas on and off we went. The rivers weren’t particularly high but wet conditions underfoot meant we were never going to break track records.

The Cannibal Gorge Hut provided a welcome retreat for lunch and then onto Ada Hut. There was little enthusiasm for pushing on for a Camera Gully campsite. We settled down for some comfort with the lack of dry firewood doing little to slow Geoff getting the fire going while some determined gathering replenished the woodshed. Raymond proved his master class chef status with a Japanese laksa udon noodle dish that Angela declared was the best meal she had ever tasted while tramping. Another Christchurch based group of five appeared and proved delightful company and the DoC policy, sleepwalking and adventure racing conversation continued for some time.

Plans for an early start were thwarted when Gary opened one eye, looked out the window and shut it again. Even Liz was less than enthusiastic. The continuing rain and snowfall at higher levels precluded climbing. Raymond revealed his Plan B that we would continue around the St James. It seemed to make sense since Angela’s van was at the Boyle Lodge end and the rest of us hadn’t done the calculation that completion in two days wouldn’t allow another hut night. The valley travel was great with huts and brews at strategic locations. Geoff pointed out that the warning sign about water supply safety at the Christopher Cullers Hut was up to DoC Standards even though there was no water supply. Liz was ecstatic to see the horses at Christopher Hut despite that feeling not being shared by the horses. After eight hours we reached the new exposed Anne Hut with tired legs and pummeled feet. We took time for a brew and soup as we need to continue. We finally stopped near the Anne Saddle in a fantastic campsite in the beech forest. Geoff did his magic with the fire and we felt human again.

Anne Saddle Campsite

The final day was over Anne Saddle and down to Boyle Hut. A new horse trekking route has been marked with oversized yellow markings leading to multiple river crossings. It has the potential to confuse people and cause problems for trampers in high water situations. After two days of constant parkas we were now in a parka on/parka off conditions but by the time we turned the corner towards Boyle Lodge it was getting positively hot. Deer were sighted on the river flats and then Geoff spotted a green jeweled gecko just before the Lodge, the first many of us had seen in the wild. It did raise the question; “why did the gecko cross the road?” since his/her camouflage was not great on the road metal but I hope we got some brownie points by helping it onto green moss. The van was a welcome sight, especially since our Ada Hut friends had left Gary’s top, lost in the Ada Hut departure, on the windscreen.

Boyle Hut View

This trip was not the original plan but a great Plan B given the conditions. We certainly enjoyed the circuit and the chance for increasing pack fitness.

Trampers were: Raymond Ford, Angela Grigg, Geoff Spearpoint, Liz Stephenson and Gary Huish. (GH)