17 June 2010

New Zealand Jan 2001 - Young Valley, Gillespie Pass, Siberia Valley

Young Valley, Gillespie Pass, Crucible Lake and Siberia Valley

We thought we had seen bad sandflies in the Rees/Dart walk. At Milford Sound, we had seen seals sunning themselves in a breeze to keep sandflies off them. Nothing had prepared us for the onslaught of sandflies at Young Forks. Created as a lunching spot on the way to Young Hut, the rangers failed to mention whom it was lunch for. As it turned out, you'd have to say we had fast food for lunch that day.

With two walks under our belts, Helen and I were hoping that the boys would have "hardened up" to walking a bit by now, but Joseph proceeded to fall to bits as the Young valley continued to go up and up and up. It is really gorgeous, with lots of trees, the odd dangerous landslip to cross, and constant riverside stimulation, but not much mitigated it for a ten year old who had had enough. However, there was little else to do but trudge on and whinge, so that's what we did. (Before you report us for child abuse, please consider that only the other day Joseph was remarking how lucky he was to have seen such beautiful mountain areas. I guess time heals all wounds).

We finally reached Young Hut late in the day. To say the setting is worth it is an absolute understatement. Nestled at the lip of a glacial valley, above a waterfall which topples into a densely treed forest valley (the one we struggled up), and backed by a punchbowl of snowcapped cliffs, complete with slow combustion stove, Young Hut seemed like we'd all died and gone to heaven.

The next day (day two), we had to climb over Gillespie Pass. Only about 800 metres, but very steep for a long time. Again, the weather was very kind, and we didn't have to battle the blizzards experienced by folks several days earlier. We met a falcon at the very top, which circled us inquisitively before landing and showing us how much it could ignore us.

That night we camped near Gillespie Stream, in Siberia Valley. Stupidly, we camped under the trees, and again became dinner for the sandflies. Our own dinner was very quick, and a card game in the tent was quickly arranged as our evening's entertainment.

Walking on airThe climb up to Crucible Lake started and ended quite vertically, and in the middle there was a gentle rise, punctuated with a leap across the creek.
So whilst it looks like Joseph is walking on an invisible tightrope, he was actually trying hard to stay airborne enough to clear the creek, in which he succeeded.

Day three saw us visit Crucible Lake. Yet another fairly vertical climb up the other side of Siberia Valley into the feeder valley of Crucible Stream, itself fed by ice falls from the cliffs that surround it. It is well named, being a lake formed by a terminal moraine and backed by rock walls.

By the time we got to Siberia Hut, we were all feeling pretty tired, especially Joseph. Greeting us when we arrived were folks from Israel, Germany, France, Canada and New Zealand, and Glen and Joseph very quickly joined in an internationally uniting card game of Ricketty Kate.
The next day, we had to decide on whether we were going to get dropped by plane up at Jumboland, to walk on to Kerin Forks and Lake Lucidus etc or just catch the plane out. Torpor decided for us, and we were granted a lovely view of the upper Wilkin River valleys, including bird's eye views of the upper lakes. The pilot was very nice to Glen, explaining how to fly the plane, whilst we approached a cliff face at 200 kilometres per hour. He was very good at showing us how to turn tight corners.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

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