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Hutbagging. Lower Salmon Creek Biv December 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

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Hutbagging Trip to Lower Salmon Creek Biv Dec 2018

The weather has been very difficult for club tramping so when I suggested another hutbagging mission to Charlie Ledbrook to an, as yet, unbagged hut, he needed no persuasion, especially as we managed to find a couple of fine days for the trip!

The target this time was the Lower Salmon Creek Bivouac, which is generally accessed from the Wharfedale Track, via Black Hill Hut. Salmon Creek runs down from Chest Peak, in the Puketeraki Range, down to the Waimakiriri.

We were very fortunate that we managed to get a key from Lees Valley Station (thanks Deb) to gain access to the 4wd from the Lees valley Rd, thus saving us an 8km plod-both ways. 

As we headed in, we were amazed at the number of beehives near the start of the track itself, presumably because of the Manuka in flower-big business. We also encountered a very friendly pig dog, with a GPS tracker on (obviously didn’t work) so we hope he got reunited with his owner.

It was a very hot and humid climb up to Black Hill hut which both of us have been to before on occasions and it was nice to finally start descending into Lower Salmon Creek Biv on a well-marked track. The track is quite steep and the surface, in places, is rather tricky on loose scree. The thought flashed through our minds as we dropped down the steep track that “what goes down, must come up”! So, about 6 hours after starting the tramp we arrived at the bivouac.

This bivouac was built in 1950 but has been done up recently (Honora and Frank, well known trampers, track clearers and hut restores have stayed there many times over the years.) It’s a two bunker, with a lovely stream close by, toilet but no fire place.
The Hut logbook has been there since 1982 and is one of the original Forestry ones, and contained the names of quite a few OFTC members who have visited it over the years, most doing a day trips from Black Hill. (A few of the names I recall were Gerry Burgess, Helen Wells, Sandi Leith, Ian Fussell, Elspeth Jeet, Bridget Barclay on various dates since 2007.)

We couldn’t work out why the bivouac was built there as it’s not on an obvious route to anywhere and can only assume it was for culling operations. (Apparently there was an Upper Salmon Creek bivouac which has been removed.)
It was interesting to note small refllective squares on the familiar DOC orange track markers. I checked them out that night and they are very effective. Hadn't noticed them before.

So we enjoyed a well-earned rest (in our opinion) before an early night in very warm conditions, listening to music from my Bluetooth speaker/ipod combination. (Sacrilege I hear some people say, but it is background music and very pleasant in the evening-each to their own.)

An early start saw us leave this very pleasant biv and head up the steep track (about 700m vertical climb) back to Black Hill hut. This is definitely “a bit of a grunt’ but easier going up than down. By now, we had a gale force Norwesterly which, in the open bits, was very strong and buffeting, so getting to Black Hill hut was a relief.

A young English couple were in residence having walked in the previous day, so we had a brew up and a chat before heading off back to the car-about 3 hours.

Nice trip, another hut bagged, still more to come.

Photos from Paul and Charlie 

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