14-15th August 2010
For Dan and I, this was the first time back to Mt Griffin since a track-clearing trip in November 2001with Sue Hely—couldn’t believe it was 2001.
We had been around the Rocky Creek-Griffin circuit since, but that was also some time back. So I went equipped with my loppers and some marking tape as usual, not knowing what to expect.
During the week, the forecast wasn’t too good and I was mumbling about plan B and C, both on the Canterbury side of the hill but what a difference 24 hours can make. Friday’s forecast was better for Saturday and a rather nice weather window on Sunday. This proved accurate, and then some.
The plan was to get away from Yvette’s centrally located place by 7am. Yvette was late to sign on, as she, like me, had planned to do the Mt Peel trip which was called off with nor’westers. Castle Hill, The Gap, was to run on the 8th but that too, was canned by bad weather. So my trip suddenly became twice as appealing and we were happy to squeeze five into my old Subaru. After Aarn had been for a bit of a cruise around the area, we got away a bit after 7, then with the car parked in the cow paddock, we were walking by 10am.
The track for the first half or two thirds of the way up the spur is still mostly good and well marked, with a few new markers added. For the last third up to the junction, things are getting more overgrown and I was doing an increasing amount of token clearing. The water barrel at the junction has rusted down so now holds only one third, but still provided a water top-up. Sad that. We depend on it and I can’t see it being replaced. Pushing on, the first bit through the scrub that Dan, Sue and I had spent a lot of time clearing, was much in need of serious maintenance again as did each scrub area.
By 4pm, we still had Wilson Knob above us, so the objective of the big tarn the other side of the knob was abandoned. We had a tarn in sight below the ridge and searched around for a camp-site not too far away. A big shingle pan on an easy spur proved ideal on a dry night and we set up the tents. The sky had kept clearing and before dark we had full blue sky. There had been virtually no wind all day. A starry sky made the evening a pleasure with no hurry to climb into the tent.
Sunday morning, there was a light frost on the pack covers, but on a beautiful calm morning, it wasn’t cold. We packed a day-pack and set off for Mt Griffin, intending to be back at the tents by 1pm and down to the car about 4. The bush bash up the Wilson Knob face took a good bit of clearing. It would have been hard work if we had done it yesterday. Crossing the top and down the other side, the big tarn was ice-covered and the tent-site there was nowhere near as inviting as our campsite.
Dan and Yvette stopped at this point and eventually wandered back to the tents. Bill and Aarn sidled out to the old serpentine mine. From their comments, there are fewer remains there than there used to be. On this visit to the top we had easily the best weather I had experienced and it was a pleasure to be there again.
Going back down, we stayed mostly with the edge. The tents were still up and were visible from some distance. We lunched at the tents, packed and headed back. Bill and I left at 1.35pm and we were all back to the car at 4.50pm, still in calm, warm weather. What a great weekend.
After a stop for coffee at the Wobbly Kea, it should have been a straight drive home but the Old West Coast Road was closed by police a little way along. A chap from Oxford, not wearing a seat belt, had failed to take a slight bend and been killed in the crash. We were diverted back down to Darfield and learned the driver’s fate in Tuesday’s paper.
We were: Merv Meredith (leader), Dan Pryce, Yvette So, Aarn Tate & Bill Templeton (MM)