Turton Saddle

6-7 October 2018

Four trampers and two co-drivers set off at 0800 in Angela’s people carrier so we four could walk from the Glenrock, Rakaia end, secure in the knowledge that the vehicle would be moved around to Lake Heron. Cows took time off from munching their brassicas and lined the road-side fence to gawk as we put our boots on.

The green pasture, matagouri and flowering kowhai alongside Glenrock Stream gave way to tussock with a bit of Dracophylum as we gained height. The zig-zag track to Turton Saddle made the climb easier. The saddle was the ideal place for lunch as we enjoyed a great view back to the wide Rakaia River. Patches of snow on the tops added to the scene.

Our next stop was at the A-frame hut in this barren, treeless landscape, then on to the minimal, corrugated-iron Comyns Hut. It must have been 4pm and we were tempted to stop for the night, but we wisely pressed on, taking a hard-right turn into the Ashburton River--North Branch. With its many river crossings, we pictured doing this leg on a chilly morning, and so were thankful we were wading this and Round Hill Creek late in the day. Angela called a stop at about 6pm on a fine gravel terrace which made for very flat tent sites. The MSR Whisperlite cooked up Angela’s excellent dehydrated mince and we climbed in to our tents.

Kerry thought the steady breeze in the valley would avert any frost. Wrong! During the night, the wind dropped and we awoke to solid boots and socks. Sunshine crept onto our site soon after breakfast. The sun and warm water allowed us to put our socks and boots on.

Clent Hills Saddle, at 1480m, is higher than 1135m Turton Saddle and the south-facing slopes had little patches of hard snow which some of us skirted. The camp chairs on the saddle are a quirky addition to the vista. We weren’t tempted to sit there for more than a minute, the fabric weathered away long ago. It was late afternoon by the timewe got to the flat land near Double Hut, then the long walk to Lake Heron. The Grigg mobile was waiting for us at the road-end and we were happy to be motoring home at 6pm. Thanks go to Angela, our organised, able leader.

We were: Angela Grigg (leader), Linda Gardner, Dan Pryce and Kerry Moore. (KM)