|Hiking Mt. Arthur, Tableland and the Cobb Valley|
|Mount Arthur (1795m)|
Kahurangi ("treasured thing" or "blue skies") is one of New Zealand's
newer National Parks (created on 4 April 1996) - our lucky 13th park. It covers
the second largest area of our parks (450,000 hectares compared to Fiordland's
1.2 million hectares). Placed in the north-western corner of the South Island,
it almost reaches the coast along Golden Bay but has plenty of coastline along
the West Coast. Two rivers form the east and south boundaries - the Motueka and
Buller Rivers respectively - and an extensive river system exists in the park.
The key to the park is its diversity - in geological, botanical, wildlife,
scenic and recreational terms. Points of interest to the tramper (hiker) are:
Fluted limestone formations on Mt. Owen formed by glacier action and the spectacular high level limestone plateau on the Garibaldi Range. Karst (limestone) landscape is also obvious on Mt. Arthur and surrounding areas.
Below ground there many caves including New Zealand's deepest cave, Nettlebed at 890 metres, and longest cave system, Bulmer with a length of 36 kilometres. There are a number of caves along the tracks that can be visited with care.
There are more than 570 kilometres of track including one of the country's "Great Walks", the Heaphy Track (easy walking up onto and over tussock plateaus and then following rivers to the coast). The Wangapeka Track is just as spectacular but less crowded and a bit tougher (lots of travel along rivers and across saddles). The tracks cover the usual spectrum of types from well-graded easy tracks (Flora Track) to normal tracks (Cobb Valley) to routes (Fenella Hut to Lonely Lake) to none at all (for example the terrain around Iron Hill and Adelaide Tarn).
Around Boulder Lake in the north of the park there are steep jagged peaks - the lake is easily accessible by ordinary trampers. However, the well-named Dragon's Teeth above the less accessible Adelaide Tarn are well worth a look by more experienced trampers.
The park contains many good huts (I can recommend Salisbury, Balloon and Fenella Huts all of which have gas stoves) but there are also a number of rock shelters for those who like fresh air. The best of these seems to be Gridiron Shelter on the Flora Track with good bunks built under the overhang.
This trip explores the high Mt. Arthur, the plateau of Tablelands and the deep Cobb Valley.
Access is not simple since most road ends are down windy dirt roads and are a fair distance apart. This encourages plenty of round trips unless you can arrange to be picked up at another road end. There are a couple of firms that offer transport for the park - Collingwood Safari Tours and Bush and Beyond (a guided tour company based in Motueka). I have an advantage in that my parents live in Motueka and were willing to drive me to Flora Saddle and collect me from the Cobb Reservoir.
|Flora Saddle to Mt. Arthur|
Flora Saddle is one of the highest start points for a track in NZ with a lofty 950 metres already climbed by car. The road up to the saddle and its carpark is mostly dirt (one section of concrete on a steep incline - watch out for oncoming traffic). The amenities there include toilets, an information hut (with an intentions book) and a telephone. Good views all around, especially up towards Mt. Arthur and down a valley back to the Motueka River and the hills beyond. My parents and I had a little wander around and then I did my boots up properly, put my pack on and took off up the Flora Track.
The Flora Track was originally built to service the gold miners near the Tablelands - a similar function was served by the Heaphy and Wangapeka Tracks. Wide and graded for pack-horses, it climbs gently to the saddle proper and then continues down the Flora Stream (passing the Flora Hut) before turning up another stream onto the Tablelands. The primeval beech forest - even with possum damage - provides a plentiful habitat for many birds: kaka, blue duck (on the streams), tomtit, bush robin (often visitors during rest stops), fantail, bellbirds, kea (alpine clowns but don't feed them) and kiwi (sit outside many huts at night and you will hear their calls). Like many South Island beech forests, wasps are a problem in summer.
I left the Flora Track at the saddle for the track to Mt. Arthur Hut - about a metre wide, benched and an easy gradient. If you are hiking to Flora Hut then an interesting alternative is to take the side-track up to Lodestone (this branches off at the carpark), admire the all-round views from 1462 metres high and then drop down to the hut. This adds about 3 hours to your hike.
The Mt. Arthur track rises easily for 30 minutes to a picnic table in a clearing on top of a small knoll (a little over 1000 metres). This is a good spot to look back over the saddle to Lodestone and forward up the ridge to the hut. After a kilometre of level walking, the track starts up the ridge with a couple of wide zigzags (good views from the second corner) and then settles to a straight easy climb up the ridgeline. There is a gain of 200 metres over the next kilometre. I arrived at the hut at 12:30, about an hour from the picnic table but I was not hurrying (the posted time from the carpark is 1 hour). Mt. Arthur Hut is a small (6 bunks), cosy hut with nice views back across Flora Saddle. It may be best to claim your bunk early since it is easy for this accessible hut to become full. I emptied my pack and had lunch.
Continuing on with an extremely light pack (essentially just a water bottle and camera in it), I hiked up the track which sidled for 50 metres along the side of the ridge. The route to Mt. Arthur climbed up to the ridge top while the track headed for Flora Hut - another excursion worth thinking about if you are travelling from the carpark to Flora Hut. On the top of the ridge, the views open right out. The route along the ridge is marked as a poled route (and there are plenty of poles) but is so popular that the path is well padded and nowhere indistinct. It took me about 40 minutes to get to point 1565 (fairly level walking with a couple of steeper sections) and another half hour to get to the base of the serious climbing up towards Winter Peak.
|A party of four descending Mt. Arthur|
The route starts with a climb onto a bald, rocky limestone shoulder and then over a small dip to the bottom of a limestone outcrop below Winter Peak. This is where I started to encounter the remains of the winter snow in the sinkholes beside the path. Note that just up from the dip there is a narrow path heading off to your left - this is an unmarked route down to Ellis Basin Hut in the next valley. Luckily you don't have to climb the vertical slopes since the route cleverly heads for a small shoulder - there are a few metres of loose scree that you may want to avoid by gaining the ridge crest. The path then drops down a bit (more loose scree) and contours below Winter Peak to the col below Mt. Arthur. The bluffs on the direct line to the top are avoided by traversing 100 metres across the slopes to a gully and then up steep slopes. On this hot day the first section was through a nice little snowfield (mostly avoided by taking a lower line across the slopes) with a little bit of snow in the gully to negotiate. Above the gully there was another snowfield providing lots of fun making steps on the way up on the well-trodden path. The summit is a few metres higher than where the path gains the top and about 50 metres to your left.
This is a magical spot that demands plenty of time to drink in the atmosphere (weather permitting). The views in all directions are tremendous. To the north-east you can look along the ridge back to the hut and further to the carpark. Beyond Flora Saddle is Lodestone (1462m) and Mt. Hodder (1377m) which conceal the Takaka Hills and Abel Tasman National Park further north. Civilisation can be glimpsed - Motueka in the north, Nelson further east and the small settlements along the plains of the Motueka River. I think that you may be able to see the North Island on a very clear day - it was a bit hazy on this day. Over the Motueka River (eastwards) there many hills and to the south you are looking towards the mountains of the Nelson Lakes National Park. Looking south-west along the Arthur Range reveals the knife-edge ridge twisting up to The Twins (1809m and 1796m). My route for the next couple of days was visible to the northwest - Gordon's Pyramid strangely flat from this height, the tussock clearing containing Salisbury Lodge glowing in the afternoon light, the flat expanse of Tableland eventually rising up to Mt. Peel and the trench of the Cobb Valley just beyond. Lastly - but definitely not least - the view to the west is inspiring with the winding green river valleys of the Leslie and Karamea Rivers separated by gleaming ranges (tussock, limestone outcrops and touches of snow).
|Tableland (left) and Mt. Peel (centre) with the Cobb Valley in the back (right)|
I did not spend as much time as I wanted on the summit due to a cold strong southerly wind. Luckily the bulk of Mt. Arthur cut the wind off as I dropped back over the snowfields. The return route to the hut is the same as the outward route - just lots more downhill walking and more views to the north. In theory, you can head from the summit directly to Gordon's Pyramid via the excitingly narrow northern ridge of Mt. Arthur and then to Salisbury Lodge. However the ridge looks extremely steep as it falls to the slopes rising up to Gordon's Pyramid. I arrived back at the hut a little after 6 pm, making the afternoon hike a magnificent 5 hours long.
Soon after I got back to the hut, another tramper arrived from Flora Hut and after my dinner (a couple of steaks - fast becoming my traditional first meal on a tramping trip) a family of 4 arrived from the carpark - making a full hut. The rest of the evening was spent sitting outdoors watching the sun set and listening to the keas in the bush.
|Mt. Arthur Hut to Salisbury Lodge|
The next day started off overcast (a few hundred metres visibility) which made it nice and cool for walking (I was a bit worried with the heat of the previous day being a bit much for me). Unfortunately it meant that the family group who were going up Mt. Arthur were not to get any views. Starting off at 8:00, I got to the turn-off to Gordon's Pyramid in about 50 minutes (the turn-off is just beyond point 1565, about 2 kilometres up the ridge from the hut). By this time the clouds had lifted slightly, so that I could see down into Horseshoe Basin where the route goes. On the way up I said good morning to a kea hopping about on the path.
|A kea on the path above Mt. Arthur Hut|
The poled route is much less padded than the one up Mt. Arthur but is still clear on the ground. It descends sharply about 150m into the basin and then winds across the basin between the karst (limestone) formations - limestone pavements, sinkholes and potholes abound with a couple of caves near the track. The route is quite interesting as it clambers over a couple of limestone pavements so take your time and explore a little (beware of potholes though - a couple near the route have stakes placed over them to prevent accidents). I reached the other side of the valley about 30 minutes from the junction.
On the other side there is a short 60m climb onto the ridge and then a steady climb to the north-east over bare rock between a couple of big sinkholes. At the top of the climb there is a sign pointing to water - a tiny and deep pond a few metres off the route. The going becomes tussock-bound and wanders down to a bit of a plateau and then further to a dip before rising to point 1380. I had a bit of a rest here (arriving at 10:20 and leaving 25 minutes later) listening to the keas flying around (one landed in the tussock near me for a short visit) and watching a number of trampers walking up the ridge from Mt. Arthur Hut - the clouds had lifted enough so that only the very top of Mt. Arthur was hidden.
|Gordon's Pyramid emerges from the clouds (from point 1380)|
After the rest, I dropped down from point 1380 (fairly vertical for 20 metres) and 200 metres later started the final climb up to the summit. If you are in need of water then there is a stream in the gully to your left that drops to a small green basin (probably with a cave - may be worth a look). The 190m climb is fairly steady with a flatter section above the headwaters of the stream to your left. Soon the first top of the mountain is reached with an interesting collection of rocky outcrops. The real summit with its trig point is a few minutes along a level ridge (with a small tarn) and up a small climb. I arrived at 12:20 and had a leisurely lunch. The views are very good - you get a different perspective on Mt. Arthur looking up a steep valley to a sharp summit (the summit ridge is hidden). The streams to the south are the headwaters of the Leslie River while further west you can see Kakapo Spur dropping down to the Karamea River and the interesting ranges beyond (especially the Garibaldi Ridge). Northwards, the tussock-covered Tableland leads the eye up to Mt. Peel and the basin of Lake Peel (not quite visible). Looking extremely close in the valley below is Salisbury Lodge.
After lunch, brace yourself for a 400m descent - about as steep as your climb to the summit. Since this is often used as a day-trip from Salisbury Lodge, the route down is much better padded than the ascent. There is no need to hurry since the hut is only a couple of hours away. Just before you get to the first belt of trees, there is an indistinct route off to the north. This is a route to Cloustons Mine (disused) and basically contours above the treeline for 1 kilometre before descending to the mine and a track down to the Flora Track. It looks like a good alternative if you want to make the day a few hours longer.
The path enters a clearing past the first belt of trees and proceeds along a ridge to enter the bush again. The last 100 metres of descent are through this bush on a broad slope for 20-30 minutes. In theory the next half a kilometre of hiking should be level (according to the map). However the path winds its way around several sinkholes and these form a series of tiny ridges to keep your attention. The path meets the edge of a large tussock clearing in about 20 minutes with a side-track branching off just before the bush edge. The side-track leads down to the Sphinx Valley Cave from which the hut is easily accessible. The Gordon's Pyramid route crosses the tussock to join the Flora Track and Salisbury Lodge is a gentle 10 minutes walk to the south.
|Gordon's Pyramid from near Salisbury Lodge|
When I arrived at the hut a little after 3 pm, it was fairly full. I had
the option of walking down the Flora Track to Dry Rock Shelter (as a couple
did) but decided to stay. In fact the hut probably ended up with its full
complement of 30 trampers. The main reason for an early stop (I could have gone
onto Balloon Hut) was the
opportunity to take a couple of the many excursions from the hut. These
A hike down the Flora Track to have a look at Dry Rock Shelter (1 hour round trip). On the way you pass the site of the old Salisbury Hut.
There is a cave nearby that you can walk into for about 40 metres without any caving experience (40 minutes for the walking, allow lots of time for the cave). The track to this cave (Pillar Cave) used to be marked until some idiot went into it with a torch of burning wood and left soot all over the place. Please don't repeat this stupidity. The cave is at map reference 793013 where a stream obviously goes underground. Turn right out of the hut and descend a gully to the Sphinx Stream. Go up the stream for a few metres and cross it heading for a bush corner. Around the corner enter a nice flowery glade and walk to the trees at its head. An indistinct path leads through the trees and into a tussock meadow. Follow the treeline until it dips back to the stream and take the path though the trees to another meadow. Follow the treeline again past a large sinkhole and to a small valley containing the cave. The pillar that names the cave is up a ledge on the left as you drop into the entrance and is covered with oddly shaped limestone growths. Watch your head climbing onto and off of the ledge - there are a couple of sharp stalactites hanging down. The couple I went with mentioned that there is supposed to be another accessible cave nearby (Hermit's Cave) but did not know its location.
Sphinx Cave Valley is worth a walk (about 40 minutes round trip) - you can see the valley from Gordon's Pyramid. Apparently the cave cannot be accessed as it is a large pothole into which the stream disappears (I may be misinformed though). However the walk up the valley looks good.
If you have reached the hut via Flora Track then a trip up Gordon's Pyramid is rewarding in clear weather (allow up to 5 hours for the round trip).
You can reach a less strenuous 'summit' by climbing up to Tableland (1260m) a climb of 160 metres from the hut (2 hours round trip). This looks like a great place to watch the sun set. Tussock looks especially dramatic in evening light.
There is another rock shelter on the descent to the Leslie River from Tableland - Spurgeon's or Splugeon's Rock (4-5 hours for the round trip).
|Salisbury Lodge to Cobb Hut|
The next day started with a brilliantly blue sky and a few fluffy clouds floating around the mountains. I was up quite early (7 am) for me and was rewarded by sight of dawn mist rising from the overnight dew. A leisurely breakfast and I packed up and was off shortly after 8. I was a bit worried during the previous night that the whole hut was going to crowd the track to the Cobb Valley. However it turned out that I was the only one headed there - most of the others were either going out to Flora Saddle or over into the Leslie with the rest staying around the hut. I did meet one guy along the way who walked from the hut to Mt. Peel and back.
|Back from the Leslie River turn-off at 8:45 am (3rd day of the hike)|
The track immediately enters the bush - scrubland with small, slender trees and bushes - and proceeds to gently climb onto Starvation Ridge (500 metres walked, 60 climbed). A bypass track from lower down the Flora Track joins the main track here. Near here is the site of Butchertown, an old goldminers camp. A few hundred metres further and the track reaches the open tussock leading up to Tableland. Another 700 metres gets you to the fork where the track down to the Leslie River branches to the left (south). The track does not actually pass the trig point on Tableland - this may be worth a detour - but curves north and down. There is a good viewpoint over the Leslie River just before a stretch of beech forest is reached. On the horizon there is the Herbert Range on the left with Mt. Kendall (1762m) standing in front and on the right is the Garibaldi Ridge with its high limestone plateau. These are framed by the Arthur Range (left) and Kakapo Spur (right). Somewhere in the centre, the Leslie and Karamea Rivers meet at the Karamea Bend but were obscured by a patch of morning cloud.
The track enters the beech forest and descends to the top of Cundy Creek. A few metres off the track (signposted) is the large Bishop's Cave which looks like a limestone arch in the process of being formed. From here there is a long, steady and easy climb over 1.5 kilometres up to Balloon Hut - at first among beech trees and then in tussock. I reached there at 9:50 (about 95 minutes from Salisbury Lodge) and stayed for nearly half an hour having a look around and my morning break. The water tank provided a nice top-up for my water bottle on this very hot day. The porch around 2 sides of the hut provided a nice resting place with views up to Mt. Peel.
|Mt. Arthur (left) and The Twins (right) over Balloon Hut|
At 10:15 am I started off again. This is the 'steepest' climb of the day - a whole 180 metres up in the next 2 kilometres. The path through the tussock provides a nice easy stroll up a broad ridge, topping out on a narrower section overlooking the valley of Deep Creek to the north. By this time the cloud in the valleys to the south had cleared giving clear views to the Herbert Range and Mt. Kendall. Of more importance are the dark waters of Peel Lake in a deep basin nestled under the Mt. Peel crags. You know that the track drops down to the lake but at first glance it looks quite inaccessible. On the other hand the track on the other side of the valley is quite obvious.
However when you continue along the ridge (climbing to the days high point of 1440 metres), you can see the track dropping to sidle along steep slopes. An option here is a side trip up to Mt. Peel's summit by continuing to climb up the untracked ridge (about 3 kilometres round trip, climbing to 1654m) and returning by the same way or a very steep route may be picked through the crags down to the lake. Once the track gets past the headwaters of a small creek, it climbs over a small spur and then drops directly to the lake. This is where I stopped for lunch at 11:40 am and a bracing swim - note that the lake is mostly fed from the snow fields on Mt. Peel - it is very cold! I had the lake to myself for most of an hour before a hiker came down the direct route from Mt. Peel. I chatted to him for a while and then moved on.
The track drops a little to cross the outlet from the lake and then starts a steady climb along the steep slopes on the north side of the Deep Creek valley. At first this is through a rocky scree slope - it is fairly stable but take care. About 20 minutes walking brings you to some eroded zigzags up to the top of the ridge giving a 100m climb in about 30 minutes. This point is yet another marvellous viewpoint, especially north over the Cobb Reservoir and down Deep Creek. The mountains at the head of the Cobb Valley can be best seen from a point just below the ridge top. A track branches off here along the ridge giving access (eventually) to the dam at the head of the reservoir - a good option if you want to make the day longer and can arrange to be picked up there. The narrow ridge to the west climbs up to Mt. Peel - you can miss the lake out entirely by going up to Mt. Peel and then coming along this ridge.
|Mt. Kendall over the Leslie River|
The drop into the Cobb Valley starts steeply along a well-formed track until it enters the bush and the gradient reduces. In the beech forest, it makes wide sweeps across Bastite Creek in its descent to Mytton's Hut. This took me about an hour but can be done in much less time. The track splits near the hut - a quick exit to the reservoir drops directly from the hut and just before the hut another track heads for Trilobite Hut, at first through grassy clearings and then into the bush where the path is a bit overgrown in places. When the track begins to descend rather than sidle then you are near the hut (about 40 minutes between the two huts). Trilobite Hut is a fairly standard road-end hut - the carpark near by was quite full with plenty of people taking advantage of the fine weather in the Christmas-New Year break. I had a long rest here (an hour) departing up the valley at 4 pm.
The track starts as a good wide path through beech forest (nice big trees) with the Cobb River to your right. The river is quite rocky and almost a gorge in the few glimpses through the trees. In less than a kilometre, the track emerges from the bush at a big loop in the river - there is a very good, deep swimming hole here with a gravel bank just right for sunbathing. It proceeds through a mixture of grassy clearings and belts of trees (cooling in the heat of this day) all the way up to Chaffey Hut - a distance of about 5 kilometres, easily completed in under the posted time of 2 hours. I had meant to stay here for the night (its split beech slab construction interested me) but its run-down state convinced me to continue on up the valley (the millions of sandflies that surrounded me as I had a quick snack also helped). The hut is no longer maintained - the floorboards are suspect and the walls have a bit of 'air-conditioning'. Note that the bridge marked here on some maps does not exist and that the track on the other side of the river is now an unmarked route.
Two hundred metres further is Chaffey Stream (no bridge but only ankle deep) where a temporary fly camp is set up with a big lean-to sleeping 6 people easily. I assume this is mostly used by anglers. A more permanent tent (almost a hut) further up the valley is used as a DOC work camp. For the next four kilometres the track travels mostly over grass paddocks above the winding river. There are a number of boggy sections with mud up to your ankles - or further if you step in the wrong place. In the middle of this, there is one stretch of well-formed, dry path which suggests that the track is being upgraded. The track drops down to meet the river a little after the second fly camp (travelling in bush again) and soon comes to a bridge across the river (might not be on your map). There is a tiny climb on the other side of the river before the track contours upriver through mountain beech and small clearings. The Cobb Hut is 1.5 kilometres from the bridge. This is another unmaintained hut but is in much better condition than Chaffey. The posted time from the carpark is 5 hours (I arrived at 8:15 pm, 4 and a quarter hours from the carpark at an unhurried pace).
The next hut is only half an hour away and I was tempted to head there when I found a group of trampers cooking a meal. However they were heading up there themselves so I decided to stay.
|Wandering around Cobb Lake and out|
I had to hoped to spend this day walking up to Kakapo Peak and the Snowdon Range where the views over the mountains and open tops are magnificent. However I woke up in the morning to the sound of a steady drizzle of rain and outside the clouds were very low. So I stayed at the hut for a bit - the rain stopped but the clouds remained. Mid-morning I decided to give up on the tops and just explore the valleys. I started by going up to Fenella Hut. I had been too enthusiastic with my camera the previous day and had just 2 shots left (used for Cobb and Fenella Huts).
The track goes a few metres beyond the hut and then takes a right fork to cross a stream and climb sharply beside it. The stream has formed a nice narrow limestone gorge and contains some small waterfalls. The track levels off after climbing 80 metres and then meets a junction - the track to Kakapo Peak goes straight ahead. The hut is a few metres away on the path to your left, about 20-25 minutes from Cobb Hut. This may be one of the best appointed huts in the park with gas stoves, lots of cooking implements (including a can-opener on the wall) and lots of room. It is big enough to have 2 entrances, one at the side leading into a boot room and another directly into the living/sleeping area from the porch. The porch faces to the west with a view over a dip to the slopes above Burgoo Stream (Xenicus Peak is directly west).
I had an early lunch break and spent a lot of time looking through an old bushcraft manual (part of the hut's library). Around 1 pm, I wandered off to the 'spa pool' - a swimmable tarn about 5 minutes walk from the hut. To get to it just take the path to the left and downhill when leaving the hut. This crosses a small basin with a stream running through it and then climbs about 40 metres up to the ridge overlooking the Burgoo Stream. There is lots of exposed limestone about and a good view down the stream - even in overcast conditions. It is easy to walk past the tarn for a 100 metres on the limestone ledges - there are some cairns marking an indistinct route. For those interested in real wilderness tramping, I would think that it is possible to follow the stream down to the Aorere River (about 10 kilometres), the river down to Shakespeare Flats (another 10 kilometres) and up a path to join the Heaphy Track.
I returned to the hut and then went back down to Cobb Hut to follow the the other fork up the river. The first 100 metres or so are flat and tree root-covered but the track soon climbs steeply onto a spur (about 20 minutes from the fork). On top of the spur there is a branch off to your right. This is the path up to Mt. Gibbs (1542m) with a steep climb first to Xenicus Peak (1433m). In clear weather there are great views from Mt. Gibbs over Cobb, Round and Island Lakes and the headwaters of the Roaring Lion River. The path also gives access back to Fenella Hut (once out of the bush, go over point 1186m to gain the ridge containing the 'spa pool'). However I continued to drop from the spur - getting to the shores of Lake Cobb in a couple of minutes.
The track meets the shore at the outlet of the Cobb River and provided an overcast view over the slate-gray waters up to the head of the lake (about a kilometre away). To get to the lake head, first cross the river by a jumble of rocks and trapped tree trunks a few metres downriver. Another 20-30 minutes up the south side of the lake gets you there - if the lake is high then there is an indistinct route just inside the bushline. I went a little bit along the route to Round Lake until it crossed the river entering the lake and stopped there (any further and I would have been in the clouds).
I took a slow stroll back along the lakeside and then back to Cobb Hut (by this time it was about 4 pm). A large group of trampers had camped around the hut (3 tents or flysheets). They had come from the Bushline Hut area - on the slopes to the north of Cobb Reservoir by a collection of glacial lakes - and had intended to hike all the way to Fenella Hut by the ridge tops. However the overcast, wet weather and harder than expected terrain had forced them to descend down a not-very-easy stream to the valley floor. Surprisingly only one bloke opted to sleep in the hut.
The next day, I took my time hiking back down the Cobb Valley - starting late since I had a pick-up for 4 pm. The weather cleared up with a bit of cloud in the morning gone by lunchtime. I passed 4 groups going up the valley (about 12 people in all) so it seems Fenella Hut is popular for New Year trips. About quarter of an hour before the track end, I stopped at a swimming hole and had a good long swim in water that was just as chilly as at Lake Peel. A hot drink and a session in the sunshine was needed to warm me up again. I stretched the break as long as I could before continuing to Trilobite Hut to meet my lift.