Lake Stream - Klondyke
27-28 January 2018
The weather forecast was symptomatic of much of the summer; a bit of everything with hot weather mixed with afternoon thunderstorms. Still it was better than a number of times when this trip had been cancelled so four of us headed out.
A tramper was drying her tent in the car park with great reports of camping at the tarn in Rahu Stream so we set off up the ridge Klondyke track between Rahu Stream and Lake Stream. The first issue was water as it promised to be thirsty work and we presumed we could fill up at the Rahu Stream. This turned out to be further away than we thought; Vesna and Sue must have wondered whether Merv and Gary had gone back to the Springs Junction pub.
The bush on the ridge to Point 1401 was delightful, but the views from the bushline to Mt Haast, the Victoria Range to the north and the Main Divide to the east were outstanding. The ridge ahead, however, looked daunting. The Victoria Range is granite resulting in spectacular spires and impressive cliff lines, but with a good foot trail, we managed to sidle around most of them. Merv was on a mission going over Point 1541, but the rest succumbed to another “wow, look at that” session enjoying the hot weather and lack of wind. The ridge foot trail continues to a cairn at the 1500m low point, but we dropped down steep tussock slopes and the occasional rocky section from the first low point that caused no problems in the dry conditions.
We selected camp sites near the stream flowing into the large tarn at 1,127m, and then the water beckoned. The top metre of water was incredibly warm for such a large tarn and Vesna and Gary swam across while Sue and Merv just cruised from the large rock forming a swimming platform. It was a very warm evening with Merv sleeping out to watch the colourful sunset and impressive cloud formations with not a thunderstorm in sight.
Next morning involved a steep climb back up the ridge for adescent into Lake Stream. We followed the ridge to the northand sidled under Point 1530 to the low saddle, but we weresoon looking back at the tarn wishing for another swim. We had initially considered heading north along the range to Mt Blackadder but the sight of the spikes on its leading SW ridge the previous day had made the ridge directly west of the low saddle look quite attractive. The descent was steep but comparatively open until the 900m contour when cliff lines barred the way. Gary chose to go left but 150m of rata root traverse and 3 litres of sweat proved futile and we then headed right for the easing of contours evident on the map at 840m.
The remaining descent was going well until disaster struck just before we reached the flat 300m from the Lake Stream track. Sue stepped on a rotten branch and toppled over an adjacent log before a short slide down the slope. She announced she was fine and headed off before noticing blood coming from underneath
her gaiter and found a large double gash up her shin. Gary and Merv applied a dressing before Sue decided that she could still walk, and Dr Vesna replaced the dressing when we reached the track. Sue was still mobile and we walked out through the promised thunderstorms. Sue thought she could last until Christchurch although she required periodic stops to ease cramp through keeping her leg elevated on the trip home.
We dropped her at the Madras 24 hour medical center and a nurse must have thought we were callous as she hobbled across the car park with a blood stained bandage from knee to ankle. A long wait and referral to the hospital for another long wait made for a 4am home time with a 19 stitch souvenir. Despite the ending, everyone agreed that it was a great trip to an impressive area.
Trampers: Merv Meredith, Vesna Mojsilovic, Sue Piercey and Gary Huish (leader). (GH)