Mid-week, with the big southerly storm causing ferry sailings to be cancelled, our short break to Nelson Lakes was looking doubtful. Things improved when ferries were due to sail on Friday morning, but nobody was looking forward to the forecast 4-5m swells.
Finally after an early start the five of us were on the 9am sailing, and across Cook Strait with barely a roll of the ferry, great.
The drive to St. Arnaud was uneventful, we called in to the Department of Conservation to check on track and hut conditions, before starting our walk up to Bushline hut, a steady two hour zig zag climb. We could hear children playing outside long before we arrived. With 18 in a 14 bunk hut it was warm, and cosy.
Saturday morning we woke to a clear, sunny day, just the conditions for a walk along the exposed Roberts Ridge to Angelus hut. Paul was not feeling well so stayed behind. Conditions were near perfect with little wind, sun, and some patchy snow which slowly increased in depth as we neared Angelus. It was reassuring to have our ice axes and crampons for the icy areas. The “posted” time from hut to hut is about 5 hours, we took over 6. Why rush on such a lovely day, with great views over every high point.
At the hut we met a French couple who had come in via another track from Speargrass hut, our planned route out.
Angelus hut is about 5 years old, being well insulated, with lots of windows with double glazing, it was warm and cosy when we arrived, a fire kept the chill off during the evening. As the water tank is drained for winter, and the lake was frozen over, our water had to come from thawing snow which, even with a white spirits burner, took a while.
Late afternoon a lone tramper joined us, only 7 in a 28 bunk hut, so there was plenty of room. The four of us had a shared meal, and after chatting to the others about their tramping experiences we all drifted off to our sleeping bags about 8.30.
Sunday morning everyone up and about before the sun and away shortly after 8am. The sun was out, but cloud was increasing, so not quiet such a good day. After an initial climb our route took us down Speargrass Creek to the hut. With many crossings of the Creek we were pleased they were not too wide and mostly we got through with dry feet.
Following lunch at Speargrass hut we had a fairly rapid walk out to the road end as drizzle tried to set in, Paul had walked into meet us so it was good to see him again. Then it was back to DOC to change clothes, report on the huts, and off to Picton to catch the early evening ferry to arrive home around midnight after a very satisfying weekend.
Those on the weekend trip, Julie, Barry, Paul, Iain and Nigel