Cameron Valley

New Zealand

February 18 - 20, 2009

Dave and Jill

 

One last trip in NZ.  Conditions were more favorable on the second than on the third.

After dropping my parents at the Christchurch airport Jill and I headed out to the Cameron Valley for one last trip in the hills.  Always with one eye on the weather, the forecast charts showed perfect weather until Friday afternoon.  At that point the largest storm since we'd been in New Zealand was supposed to swallow the entire country.  We'll be out by then and back in Christchurch having drinks with friends we thought.  Well, if you've read through any of the previous trip reports you know what happened.  The storm arrived more than 12 hours early and gave us a brutal soaking.  So bad that we were forced to check into a motel in Christchurch instead of staying with friends in order to dry our gear.

The Cameron Valley with the Arrowsmith Range at the head was superb.  Glaciated mountains rising straight out of the plains with a blue-tinted river meandering through.  Perfect for wandering and photography.  We came in late on the first evening, got off the track and camped beside the river.  The next day was short-sleeves warm so we hiked to the Cameron Hut and then up to the glacier above the hut.  Once again, thinking we had the entire valley to ourselves we were frustrated when a helicopter dropped three "scientists" at the hut.  They were friendly enough, but we opted to forego staying in the hut and camp back down valley alongside the river.

During the second night the downpour started.  We used our newly acquired fasting skills, skipped breakfast and hiked the three remaining hours back to the car.  The soaking was so thorough that I started developing the first signs of hypothermia.  An ugly and fitting end to our excellent, but wet trips in New Zealand.

Cooking dinner and packing our bags at the head of the Cameron Valley.  We were under the mistaken impression that this was a popular spot so were only using the road atlas as our map.  Although this wasn't the typical trailhead we still found the track into Cameron Valley without an issue.

 

The long and easy hike toward the Arrowsmith Range and Cameron Hut.

 

Dawn on the first morning; an incredible contrast to the wretched dawn of the second morning.  This was more of an excursion to find the trail than about taking a good photo, but I still like the way it came out.  These peaks seem to rise straight out of the dry plains - my favorite type of landscape.

 

Back at our camp Jill tries to get organized.

 

Looking down onto the Cameron River from a high point on the trail.  We camped the second night beside the river just above Jill's head.

 

Cutie!

 

Jill slops the peanut butter on four open PB&H's at Cameron Hut.

 

Hiking up to the chossy glacier along the lateral moraine.  I think I read a recommendation in a climbing guide saying this place is best in spring, fall and winter.  I believe it - what a place to ski into on a clear winter day!

 

The wind helps Jill flop the rainfly on the tent.  By this time it was obvious that the weather forecast was wrong, so we took extra care in battening down the hatches.

 

Assessing the damage at the end of the hike.  I had to drag my pack through the mud when we became sidetracked on a hobbit trail.

 

That's it!  Cold, wet and tired but satisfied with our trips.  A little rain at the end of a long trip sure beats cancer.

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