May 15 2018

Middlemarch area tramps

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[Rock and Pillar via Six Mile Creek This climbs 3300 feet up the eastern face from Glencreag Station up a leading ridge south of Six Mile Creek. This is the most direct approach.]

[Rock and Pillar via spur south of Lug Creek. Information: Climbs 3000 feet up the eastern face of a well-graded vehicle track up a leading spur south of Lug Creek. Average time to Leaning Lodge is 3 hours on foot.
9.5km north of the Middlemarch store on SH87, just before Lug Creek, is a farm entrance (RAPID 7219 – no DoC sign). A short way up the driveway is a DoC car park. There is public access up the vehicle track to the conservation area boundary. The track is now a recreation reserve administered by DoC.
Easiest route to Big Hut from Leaning Lodge (foot only – unmarked – good visibility essential) is another 45+ minutes climbing gently southwards to cross a steep gully and then climb a gentle shelf to above the eastern basins. Sidle several hundred metres past the lower prominent rock tors before gently descending to Big Hut once it becomes visible. Route very wind and cloud-prone. Ice axe and crampons may be necessary to traverse steep snow slopes near Leaning Lodge.]

7. 25/5/2018. Sutton Hut. Biking/Walking. Leader: Eleanor.

Tuesday 15 May.  Leader Arthur
6 keen trampers arrived at Sutton Lodge to a rather chilly welcome, even though Warden Melinda had heaters and hot water turned on.  After unpacking we enjoyed smoko, reading the O.D.T. and lunch.
Early afternoon we set off walking the long straight Kidds Road for approx. 3 km to reach the Sutton Salt Lake loop track. (The only Inland salt lake in N.Z).  Was glorious walking round in brilliant sunshine looking at spectacular Tors, Lake Reflections, views of the Rock and Pillar Range and surrounding Countryside.  Ducks lifted off the lake, however, 3 swans were happy to stay put.

Swans. (Helen pic and caption.)

The loop took about an hour, then back to the Lodge we went.  Soon after the 7th member arrived after playing a round of golf.
Was most enjoyable sitting round the open fire chatting in the lounge, soon to be followed by a delicious dinner and desert.

Wednesday 16 May. Leader Arthur
A clear morning dawned.  Today is the big hike!  Due to recovering from injury, 1 member stayed behind.  2 other members drove up and joined her for coffee and a look and walk around the Salt Lake.  6 members left the Wandle Road car park at 8.55am, which sits at approx. 330 metres.  We headed up, up and up some more on a 4 wheel drive track on our way to Leaning Lodge Hut, which sits at approx. 1220 metres, about 9 km away.
The original hut was part of a failed attempt to build a ski field on the Rock&Pillar Range by Otago Ski Club in the 1950’s.  It was bought in the 1970s by Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club, for many years it was used for Snow Craft Training.  The hut got its name from the rather alarming angles the floors were on!  The leaning Lodge Trust was formed in 2006 with intention of either bringing hut up to standard, or replacing, which they have.  The new hut was completed in 2013, sleeps 8, doesn’t have a fire or water tank.  Sadly, as of April 2017 the hut closed after discussions with D.C.C. and D.O.C.
Smoko was a welcome break with great views over Strath Taieri.  Then it was onwards and upwards along the many zig zags till we had a breather at the giant rock beside the track, knowing it wasn’t too far till the track forks to the left into the hut (no signpost). 2 of the group were happy to lunch at the hut(locked), then walk down, down, down to the cars.  They took car keys so they could leave car at the end of our track.  It was lovely walking amongst the many schist tors, rocky pillars, sub alpine shrub lands and snow tussock.  1 of the remaining 4 walked the 1/4 hour in to have a look at Leaning Lodge Hut.  Meanwhile, we were looking up to the big square rock (visible from highway 87) that was to be our lunch stop.  We arrived at 12:15pm, put on hats and gloves enjoyed lunch–very chilly breeze at this height!  before another bit of a climb to the SUMMIT ROCK at 1450 meters,

Rock and Pillar summitted!(Art pic and caption.)

which gave us an outstanding vista of surrounding Mountain Ranges.  Also, a great place for photo shots!
We had finished climbing, so now it was downhill  for us to the Big Hut, which was reached in about 15 mins.  By now fog was swirling around us.
BIg Hut Ski Lodge (locked) A spacious 70 bunk Lodge was opened in 1946 by the Otago Ski Club.  A crawler tractor and trailer hauled 30 tons of building material 3200 feet up the steep eastern face of the range.  For many years this Big Hut, as it was known provided the venue for large weekend parties of ski enthusiasts until easier access slopes on Coronet Peak became irresistible during the 1950s.  Now owned by Rock and Pillar Trust, sleeps 16 and doesn’t have heating.  Inside the hut a lot of local history can be read.
We followed snow poles down, down and down some more

Descendiing in tussock. (Art pic and caption.)

on a very narrow track for quite a long time, till in the distance the road and farm shed were spotted.  Soon after, probably about 2 km away the 2 cars were driving towards the shed, so we knew the end was near.  Finally, we arrived

At bottom of Big Hutt track. (Art pic and caption.)

at that red car and headed back to Sutton.  What a great day tramping we had!
How grateful we were to have the fire going and hot drinks ready by our left behind member.  Another very tasty dinner and desert was enjoyed, with not as much chat as the night before!

Thursday 17 May.  Leader Theresa
Another clear morning greeted us-even though Rock and Pillar Range was coated in snow.  We enjoyed free range eggs with our breakfast.  Quickly everyone got into action and tidied the Lodge ($12.50 a day).  Then we drove to the site of the Red Bridge,

Wrecked Sutton Bridge. (Art pic and caption.)

that was washed away by the 2017 July flood.  Next we drove and parked at Sheep Wash Creek and climbed Smooth Cone–the visual symmetry of this small Cone

Climbing Smooth Cone. (Art pic and caption.)

topped by a cluster of Basalt Boulder

Smooth Cone. (Helen pic and caption.)

is the same from all angles.  The large lone Radiata PIne Tree was planted on 8 November 1918, 4 days before the signing of the Armistice.  I hope I look as good when I am 100!!  Was a lovely spot to have smoko looking out over Strath Taieri.
We then went back, picked up gear and stopped not far past Sutton , climbed through fence and enjoyed lunch in the sunshine.

Taieri Pet. (Art pic and caption.)

A most enjoyable tramp was had by us all.  Maybe we could look at a combined trip sometime?

– Cheers, Eleanore.

6. 28/3/2018. Redan Crater/Taieri Ridge (Dry Ridge). M. Leader: Theresa.

On a sunny day that got hotter as the tramp progressed, 13 people enjoyed the day in the Strath Taieri.
Leave Mosgiel and go highway 87 to Middlemarch. At the northern end of the township turn right. Go east, cross the Taieri river bridge and take the first left on Hartfield road. Continue up the road, pass the Renwick (the land owner) homestead on the left then park up at the first gate on your right. Cross paddocks…

and they are off…to the Crater (on the horizon). (Phil pic and caption.)

…and continue to the top on a 4WD track. At the top while we had lunch there were views to the East of the Waikouaiti hills and the Nenthorn and Moonlight valleys. South we could see Saddle Hill – well half of it.

Still on  the top, follow the track for about 20 mins then head NW down towards the crater. This is a very obvious crater rim.

Nearly there… (Phil pic and caption.)

To view it from the  highway on the Rock & Pillar side looking towards the Taieri Ridge you should be able to pick it out. Lots of rock outcrops can also be seen but the crater rim is a stand-out example of the volcanic action in the area.

After a safe walk inside the crater…

– Redan Crater…and bubbling pool?,(Phil pic and caption.)

… it was down and back to the cars. There was a gully to negotiate…

Following sheep and goat tracks will get us there! (Phil pic and caption.)

…before we rejoined the track we took on the way up.

Coffee at the Kissing Gate in the outside seating was the usual debrief…

Enjoying the KissMeKate cafe. (Phil pic and caption.)

…with lots of laughs and good company. – Theresa.

5. 27/4/2016. Taieri Ridge, Redan Crater. M. Leader: Arthur H.

The day dawned fine and sunny. Even better, it was a Wednesday –  and the day for our tramp up onto Taieri Ridge. Perfect.

12 Trampers left Mosgiel at 9.05 a.m. in 3 cars. A brief pit-stop was made at Middlemarch and to reassemble the convoy. We parked on the roadside at 10.10 a.m. and sat in the sunshine to partake of morning tea.

The Start. (Helen pic and caption)

It is some 6 km to the top of Taieri Ridge, uphill all the way.

Across several paddocks above the road and then up a 4WD track through the rocks and tussock.

Back to Rock and Pillar Range (Helen pic and caption)

The grade is a little variable, but good all the way. Beautiful country to walk through.

We stopped for lunch on top, just after noon.

Lunch. (Helen pic and caption)

We had good views in the direction of Nenthorn, and both Saddle Hill and Maungatua were visible away in the distance to the right. To the left the valley pointed the way to Moonlight and Macraes. Neither could be seen however.

We had just resumed our walk along the top when a tiny orange piglet shot across in front of us. He was obviously in a hurry as he didn’t stop to say hello. From lunch-stop we had a 20 minute walk before turning downhill to the Redan Crater. We sidled round the highest remaining piece of the ridge and gazed down into the crater where a few sheep grazed.

Rim View. (Helen pic and caption.)

It is a few hundred metres in diameter – I forgot to take my tape measure so can’t be more specific. Sorry.

The Redan Crater is about 20 million years old, the result of volcanic action. There are other volcanic sites in the area, but this one is the best example of a volcanic crater in Otago.

We walked through the center …

Helen and Theresa walking inside the crater. (Margreet pic and caption)

… and out the other side, and down the ridge. Following the sheep tracks showed us the way to cross two deep gullies. Across a fence and then uphill briefly, when the day became noticeable hotter.

Soon we were back to the 4WD track and followed it back down. We arrived back at the cars at 2.55 p.m., having travelled 14.6 km.

The coffeeholics were in dire need of a “fix”, so a stop was made at Middlemarch to alleviate the problem. Showing normal good social manners, the rest of us accompanied them.

Coffee to end day. (Helen pic and caption)

And so 12 happy trampers returned to Mosgiel. It had been a good day! – Arthur.

 30-31/3/2016. Trampers. Leaning Lodge.

We had 6 trampers keen to do the overnight trip to Leaning Lodge on the Rock & Pillar range. This made the travel arrangements, & the journey up
the hill to the hut quite easy. We had the loan of Ian Heb’s trailer, & Neil’s 4WD Ford ute, with his quad bike on the back.
This allowed everybody to travel to the start of the track in comfort, then we hooked the trailer onto the back of the quad bike, loaded all the packs & other gear onto it, & the back of the ute, put 4 people in or on the ute, & I drove the quad bike with Ian hanging on for grim death sitting on the rear platform. We had morning tea at this point, & then began the drive up the hill.

1 Ready to set off up to hut (Ken pic and caption)

Ready to set off up to hut (Ken pic and caption)

it’s about a 7km climb up the hill to the parking place by the hut, & takes quite a while due to the roughness of the track, but we all made it safely without mishap. it was then a case of ferrying all the gear down to the hut, & getting things set up in there, after which we had lunch while discussing what to do for the rest of the day, as the weather was really good.
it was decided that we would walk along to Big Hut via the highest point on the range, to take advantage of the views available from such a high point. [1457mtrs]. We walked up the road to the tops, where we discovered that there was a 4WD track leading all the way along the tops, & this went very close to the high point. There are the remains of a trig station [Trig H] on the very top which is easy to access. After spending some time here looking & taking photos, …

View from Summit Trig (Ken pic and caption)

… we carried on towards Big Hut, & were surprised to see a DOC sign pointing the way to the hut. From this sign it’s only a short distance down to the hut, …

Approaching Big Hut from above (Ken pic and caption)

 … where we had a rest, while everybody examined the info on the walls inside, & marvelled over the solar heating system on the North facing side of the hut.

We then retraced our steps back to Leaning Lodge, …

Bit of humour (Ken pic and caption)

… & got things organised for the evening meal, which basically meant boiling plenty of water for the freeze dried food everybody had, & then boiling even more water for tea/coffee afterwards, plus some more for doing a few dishes.
Neil rigged up his lighting system [a 12v battery plus lead, & bulb with
a shade] so we had a good amount of light when it got dark. We made use
of this by reading some of the magazines left in the hut, & Ian gave us
a run down on how to map read. We were all in bed by about 9:45, & were
serenaded with snoring by one member who will remain nameless!!! After a
cool night, which saw the fog surround the hut, we woke to a clear
morning, with the fog having descended down to cover the valley floor,

Middlemarch is under there somewhere (Ken pic and caption)

& the sun starting to light up our side of the valley.
Breakfast was taken at a leisurely pace while we discussed what the day’s
plans were, packed everything up, & carried it back up to the vehicles.
As we had gone to Big Hut the day before, we decided to drive to the ‘tops’ road, & walk along in the opposite direction to view some more of the amazing rock [tors] formations that exist up there. We stopped for morning tea at a suitable tor that gave us shelter from the slight cool breeze that was blowing, & then walked a few kilometers further, before turning & going back to our morning tea spot for lunch.

Arthur taking notes, with our route home in background (Ken pic and caption)

Then it was back to the vehicles, & after securing everything, we set off back down to the car park at the bottom of the track, where the quad bike was loaded onto the back of the ute again, the trailer hooked up to the ute, &packs etc. loaded into the car ready for the drive home.
Of course we had to keep up the coffee club tradition, so a stop at the
Kissing Gate Cafe was in order before the drive back to Mosgiel.
We all had a great time, the weather was superb, & the company great, the hut is nice & comfortable, with double glazing, & insulation, so a successful trip.

Walked [over two days] 20km
Ave 4.5km/h
climbed 521mtrs
max elev. 1457mtrs – Ken.

18/2/2015. Leaning Lodge. Trampers.

GPS of route, courtesy Ken. Leaning Lodge. (Ken pic and caption)

With an 8:30 start, eight trampers turned up for our assault on Leaning Lodge. We drove to Middlemarch, & then along Highway 87 towards where the Rail Trail crosses it. As there is no signposting for the track up to Leaning Lodge we had to keep a sharp eye out for the turn off.
After parking in the large carpark paddock, we loaded up the packs & set off up the track, which is a not too steep, zig zag 4WD track, that goes all the way up to the hut & beyond. It is a relentless climb of 9km with hardly any level spots to stop & rest, so we found a place to have morning tea, & then continued climbing.

About 2kms from the hut some of the party decided they would stop for lunch, [we didn’t know then that it was another 2k to go] but 3 of us went on determined to get to the hut for lunch.

Leaning Lodge. (Ken pic and caption)

The hut comes into view about 1km before you actually get to it, so it’s like a beacon drawing you on for the last bit of the climb. Then you have to go DOWN some quite steep steps to get to it, & after spending the best part of 3 hrs climbing, going down steep steps seems really foreign to the body.
However, the 3 of us made it safely, & had lunch in the hut.

 

Lunch inside Leaning Lodge (Ken pic and caption)

Leaning Lodge with track leading to it (Ken pic and caption)

Zoomed in shot of the Lodge (Ken pic and caption)

As you may know, this hut is only one year old, [to replace the old Leaning Lodge on the same site] so it’s in very good, clean condition. It has a wonderful view…

View from hut (Ken pic and caption)

…down into the highway 87 valley, will sleep 12 people, has a long drop loo, no water supply, but two sinks in a stainless steel bench, with drains to an outside sinkhole.
As it was the day before my birthday, I carried a bottle of wine wrapped in newspaper to keep it cold, to share with the others at lunchtime, but with only the three of us, & one person declining to partake, the level in the bottle didn’t drop very far, so I was resigned to having to take it all the way back down again!!
George also kindly arrived at the carpark early to present us with some cake & chocolates to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.
While we were having lunch, we saw two others walking along the 4WD track towards the hut, but they then turned around & went back again. We later learned that they had just come up to see the hut after their lunch, but decided to not go all the way to it.
After lunch we climbed the steps back up to the 4WD track & proceeded to walk back down the mountain., where we came upon two of our group resting in the shade of a big rock cluster. it was here that we learnt of one group member who had taken the wrong turn, & was last seen heading up the 4WD track to the mountain tops, which was away above the hut site. To make matters worse this person [who shall remain nameless] left their pack behind, which contained their water supply, & a cell phone, so when I rang the number, it didn’t get answered. By this time everybody had climbed high enough to at least view the hut, without actually going to it, so we just had to wait around for the errant tramper to return, which happily happened after about 1/2 an hour wait.
We then started the long walk down to the cars. This was rather hot going, as by this time of day the temperature was quite high, my wrist watch temperature gauge said 34°C at one stage, but from past experience, as I’m wearing it, it reads about 7°C too high, but even so, it was very hot work, & quite a few ran out of water before we got back down, so they were thankful for a stream near the bottom of the track. We were glad of the early start, which allowed us to climb in the cooler morning conditions.
We picked up the last member of our group, found lying in the shade near the cars, packed up, & drove back to Middlemarch hoping that the coffee shop would still be open, but as it was well after 4pm this was not to be, so we carried on home, arriving at the Mosgiel carpark about 5:30pm.
We all agreed that the trip was worthwhile, & the weather was superb all day, with just a very gentle breeze at times. – Ken.

23/10/2013. Trampers. Rock and Pillar – Big Hut.

GPS

GPS of route, courtesy Ken. Distance 10.5 km; Moving time 3 hr 45 mins; Stopped time 1 hr 37 mins; Ave 2.8 km/h; Climbed 973 mtrs; Max Elevation 1337 mtrs.

As this was a new tramp for most, we left early to make sure we had plenty of time. We arrived at the start of the track to find a really nice looking day, so as the signs at the bottom say, we “set off slowly, & then eased up” as the grade got steeper. You have to realise that this is a 3000ft [970mtr] climb, so haste was never on the cards, especially for us 4 old farts that made the trip. We had a couple of stops on the way up to enjoy the views,

 

Snowcave

Snow-cave near the top with a stream running through it (Ken pic and caption)

but we could also see some clouds that looked a bit threatening, so we pushed on up to Big Hut at almost the top of the range.

Ian approaching Big Hut. (Ken pic and caption)

Ian approaching Big Hut. (Ken pic and caption)

After a good look around, we had lunch,…

Lunch in Big Hut. (Keith pic)

Lunch in Big Hut. (Keith pic)

… & because we could see the occasional wisp of cloud going past the windows, we didn’t dally too long before heading back down the mountain. The air temperature had dropped markedly since our arrival, so we made fast progress down to warmer conditions. We stopped 3 – 4 times on the way down to give our screaming thighs some respite from the continual down hill pounding. One stop in particular was very enjoyable, as both the temperature, & the views, along with the comfort of the tall tussock were hard to leave. We arrived back at the car, & it was a bit of a struggle for some to fold themselves into the seats, due to stiffness setting in. A stop at the ‘Kissing Gate’ cafe for a well deserved coffee was appreciated by all, & we all said it had been a good tramp. We arrived home at about 4 pm, so it wasn’t as long a day as we thought it might have been before we set out. It took us 2 3/4 hrs to go up, which was within the recommended times of 2 – 3 hrs. So we felt really good about that. – Ken.

4a. 9/11/2008 Sutton Camp. Leaders: Bill and Pat. (See Sutton camp post)
The Youth Adventure Trust/Rotary camp, based on the former School House, Hall and Cottage complex at Sutton was ideal and 19 of us enjoyed a very pleasant weekend stay, due in no small part to the organising and ‘recceing’ of Bill and Pat. – Thank you! The highlight was the tramp up to the Redan Crater.

Crater on Taieri Ridge.

Crater viewed from side. (Bill pic).

with 18 of us reaching the highest point of the tramp and 13 of us making it on back down to the Crater.

Group pic on Redan Crater NE rim. Ria, Joyce, Evelyn, Leonie, Ian, Doug, George, Bill, Molly, Graham, Bev, Lesley, Bob. (Bill pic)

There were many rock formations to wonder at on the way.

Rock seal? (Bill pic)

Monster Owl Rock. (Elaine pic)

Another Rock (Bill pic).

And yet another. (Bill pic).

Another one still?

Surely this is the last. Is that an eye, a face? (Bill pic).

Maybe this is the last, then. (Bill pic).

Goats climbing Crater slope.

A magnificent achievement, if a bit long and tiring for some. The day was beautifully sunny with an early morning tempering wind preventing us for overheating. The more adventurous headed back by going over and down from the crater with the rest retracing the more prudent longer but gully-free track back.

Sunset at Sutton. (Bill pic and caption.)

4b. 9/11/2008. Rock and Pillar via spur south of Lug Creek – attempt! Leaders: Ian, Leonie.
The Sunday proved more problematic with an overcast sky, but nine of us attempted the three-hour 4WD track which turned off the highway 9.5km north of Middlemarch (RAPID 7291 – no DoC sign) and led up the ridge leading to Leaning Lodge. But we had made it only a little way up before we experienced the WIND. We snatched as much shelter as we could find for an early morning tea…

Windy tea break. Bev, George, Ria. (Ian pic and caption.)

… but had climbed only a little bit further before several of us wanted to turn back, with the remainder following suit only a little later when they could no longer keep their feet as the northerly only increased in strength. Prudence triumphed over ambition. But we vowed we would return some time in the future as the gentle gradient of the zig-zag route was a gift of a climb.
4c. Sutton Salt Lake.
The other trip was to the Sutton Salt Lake, within a comfortable walking distance from the camp. And it was as wonderful as it ever was.

Sutton Salt Lake view point. Bill H, Lesley S, Pat. (Elaine pic).

Lake. Graham, Leonie. (Ian pic and caption.)

Group photo, Sutton. (Elaine pic).

Enjoyment of the weekend was so high that there was discussion of options for another camp some time in the autumn. – Ian Camp Contact:  03-464 3473

 

3. 28/5/2003.Crater and Lake day trips:  Leaders: Bob, Arthur H, Val and Denise

 

Morning Tea out of the strong wind.

Long steady climb. Graham. (Ian pic and caption.)

Down Into Crater. Doug recognisable. (Ian pic and caption.)

Crater heart. Arthur, Lex recognisable. (Ian pic and caption.)

Salt Lake entrance. (Ian pic and caption.)

Close-up of lake. (Ian pic and caption.)

2. 14/11/1990 Leaders: Bob H, Betty B.

1. 23/11/1988 Bus Trip. The Redan, an extinct volcanic crater on Mr R Renwick’s property, Middlemarch. Leaders: Bob & Audrey, Jack M

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