13 - 14 October 2018
For me, this trip was a repeat of the Mt Peel trip Joy Schoeder, Wayne Thomas and I did in Dec 2012, although mid-October compared to early December is not exactly a ‘repeat’ when it comes to the conditions.
Nevertheless, as before, Dan and I left town mid-afternoon on Saturday to cruise down to the DoC camping ground at Peel Forest and set up our tent in a nice spot across from the kitchen block. Plenty of time to settle in, and eventually have the evening meals we had brought. And at this time of year, there were few other campers for company. Saturday, near the mountain had been cloudy and calm, but the forecast suggested Sunday the weather would clear, although it took all day to clear off the northern side of the ridge.
Our intention was to be up and away early, to give maximum time to get up to the high peak. We were kind of dragging the chain from the start. Maybe it didn’t help that during the night when my watch was showing 5.55am, I was encouraging Dan to get up when it was actually only 3.30am! And then when we did leave the camp, I had a mental block as we shot pass the Blanchwood Rd turnoff, and then couldn’t work out where it was! But eventually we found the carpark, and were walking by 7.50am, up through the baches and then on to Deer Spur for the climb to Little Mt Peel.
A descending hunter passed us with a smallish pig strapped on his back, grumbling a little that he had been hoping for a thar. A nice juicy porker versus a tough old thar? Everyone has their own preferences, I suppose. As time passed, we were slowly caught by another group of six. Once at the shelter on Little Mt Peel we found they were Geraldine Tramping Club members. And I was impressed that one of them knew quite a bit about Don’s Track to Winterslow.
Initially, the ridge up from the shelter is pleasantly gradual, but then loss of height followed by more demanding climbing up to Middle Mt Peel, took a bit more effort. We were fortunate that the hunter had left his tracks in the snow, and although the snow on Mt Peel wasn’t deep, it made route picking that much easier. It was 1.30pm when we reached Middle Mt Peel. Lunchtime. We could see some of big Mt Peel up ahead, but we were at our turnaround time. Leaving at 1.55pm, we were back up to the shelter at 4.05pm and down to the vehicle at 6.55pm, the last part in lovely early evening sunshine coming through the bush.
So back to Peel Forest, packed up the tent and off for the drive home. Food was then increasingly on our minds and the options were limited. Dan suggested that McDonalds were better than they may have been decades ago when I was last in a McDonalds, so the big M in Ashburton it was. Interesting. The burger probably was better than years ago, but anyway, the big nutty muffin and very large latte in a massive coffee cup! What’s there not to be happy about? Late home, particularly for Dan, who had done all the driving and still had to get back to his side of town. But a very satisfying trip once again with the snow at this time of year adding to the scenery.
We were: Dan Pryce and Merv Meredith (L) (MM)