Hopkins Valley Overnight: Aug 12-13, 2023
Report by Clifford Hiscock
Our journey started on Friday night as we travelled to Mārama where we overnighted with Keith in an Airbnb to give us an excuse to test the hospitality of the" local".
The morning presented at negative one with snow falling on the decking bringing back vivid memories of our previous run two weeks ago up the Macaulay River and left me wondering what Keith was conjuring up for us this time!
Anyway... off to the ski field junction where we are joined by Andras and Joe, John and Belle, Keith and Kerrin, Dave plus Judy and myself. Weather is looking more user friendly with the cloud retreating to the tops, good visibility and temperature around 2 degrees.
Before getting underway our fearless leader is presented with a yellow mug on a tether courtesy of Johnny and Belle to assist Keith of keeping his stuff together!
Good one Johnny!! Let the trip begin. Tyres are aired down and into it.
Stage one - Monument Hut, which is a very picturesque spot set in trees, also the most accessible hut in the valley.
Stage two - after a break takes us across the river to check out Red hut, with thought of our 10 persons and limited beds we decided to move on.
At this point I'm beginning to appreciate the navigation skills of our leader as we navigate the river valley from side to side, as there were many options up this river, the path chosen can have a massive effect on the progress.
We travelled over country from boulder fields to Savannah Highways where we could have easily been wagoning in North America.
From Red hut it's on to Elcho Hut the chosen spot for the night. Our early arrival gave us the opportunity to explore the North Elcho Valley Tramping Track. The power of the avalanches is evident even in the minor tributaries with major upheaval of the landscape. Our destination was the Swing Bridge high above the Elcho which really must be crossed to appreciate the engineering skills of such a simple structure.
The hut had limited space to offer due to a hunting party so we took advantage of a perfectly still 2 degree evening and burnt our firewood including some unmentionable combustible material in a fire pit outside the hut which made a very memorable social evening with great company of our troops.
The balance of the night was shared between the limited hut beds and car camping.... in various forms, from roof tents including an electric blanket.. Really Dave? to car camping and a tent.
Attempts to provide our fearless leader with the perfect "Flat White" (not to be outdone by Johns Back Country Silver Service) went off with a BANG!!
The Bellman blew its top.-.leaving not a trace of liquid or even the scent of ground beans. Fortunately no animals were harmed during this procedure and all endangered species survived!
Sunday - with the weather holding up we navigated to the Dodger Hut under the towering Pinnacles of the Dasier Range which would be the most spectacular scenery of the trip.
From there we navigated some serious boulder fields to the roads end, before turning back via Cullers Hut and retracing our steps back to Ohau where we checked out the rebuild of the township.
Off to the Oahu Omarama Watering Hole for a debrief and refuel!! In conclusion the timing of the trip was perfect and wish to thank Keith for his excellent planning.