Yeats Ridge Track Maintenance, Toharoa River

17 -21 November 2020

Over-nighting Tuesday in Ross got us close to the Toharoa track-start for our walk into Cedar Flat where we planned to base ourselves for our track maintenance task. Liz has adopted the Yeats Ridge track, so armed with loppers and saws we headed along a boggy Toharoa Track over the bridge near the Adventure Ridge track then up our spur. The lower section in rata and kamahi forest wasn’t overgrown to the point of slowing a tramper and is well marked with permolat. By mid-afternoon, we hadn’t reached the denser flax, Astelia, Dracophyllum and cedar forest, but resolved to focus on the flax next day, Thursday. Back at the hut, Liz cooked a fancy noodle and haloumi dinner with asparagus and garden-fresh broad beans, topped off with a super lemon cake for dessert. A long after-dinner soak in the hot pool was reward for a hard day.

Day Two, we made a bee-line for the flaxy bit. Flax and astelias can be cut with knives or low-down with a saw. Near midday we made our way to a tarn for lunch and a cuppa, taking care not to include any of the myriad tarn tadpoles in our hot drink. While we were above the tree-line we took the opportunity to go a further 800m to Yeats Hut for a look-see. In the hut book, we noted the names of a couple we’d met the day before, doing a 6-day circuit. Going down “our” track we trimmed anything that annoyed us, and noted that any cut flax we’d left on steep bits of track were more slippery than the proverbial banana peel. Back at Cedar Flat we met Andrew Buglass, who we were expecting. He had come to help and encourage. For our Thursday night dinner Liz cooked a super vegetarian curry dinner, with broccoli and broad beans, then we finished the lemon cake. That night’s hot pool dip was hotter than for Wed night.

With Andrew along for the Friday spur attack, Kerry excused himself and worked near the hut, and lazed. Andrew was able to tell the workers, which plants demand attention by growing fast and bushy. We had chopped some that grow slowly and never get big. Some are best pulled as they will soon pose a problem if just trimmed. This energetic foursome went to Yeats Hut to improve the water drainage, and then on to Crystal Biv for a major workout. Back at base they had a well-deserved hot dip while Kerry cooked lamb and vegetables plus Moroccan lamb dehydrated meals on brown rice. Custard on gingernuts completed the meal.

Friday night was overcast, but the expected rain held off till 9am Saturday as we were walking out. It was steady from then, all the way to the cars. As we walked near a vertical gravel face, a small slip showered gravel near us. The rain kept us focused on walking so we reached the cars in good time and assembled for lunch at Hokitika. From there we dispersed, north or east or locally.

This was a well-planned, worthwhile foray that took advantage of fine mid-week weather to keep a Westland track in this beautiful area accessible to trampers.

We were: Liz Wightwick (leader) , Andrew Buglass, Guy McKinnon, Peter Umbers, Kerry Moore. (KM)

Peter Umbers snipping vegetation on the Yeats Ridge Track. Photo courtesy of Liz Wightwick