This is that story.
I was accompanied on this hike by a friend, who was equally enthusiastic as I was about the great outdoors. The plan was to go to an area known simply as "The Cobb", located in (what was then called "The North-West Nelson State Forest Park") Kahurangi National Park. The area is very popular with outdoors people from all over Aotearoa and the World, with hundreds-of-kilometers of hiking trails and dozens of Backcountry Huts. Our route we found in a book written by an experienced local hiker and, after some weeks carefully studying the information, along with terrain maps of the area, we felt we could accomplish the course. We photocopied the route and map, to carry on our person, paid close attention to the weather forecast, prepared our gear & equipment (food - enough for a week, clothing - including a spare set, tent, sleeping-bag, cooking gear, first-aid and packs). We informed our partners (a colloquialism for wives) of our intentions (planned route, huts and times), in case something went horribly wrong. We estimated we would be away for four days. The plan, to commence our trek from the Bushline Hut (Map), stay the night, then proceed, after a short ascent, along the ridge-line running parallel to the Cobb River and Valley, then descend to the Fenella Hut (Map). After a couple of nights recuperating we would then return to our vehicle via the Cobb Valley track.
On day one we drove to the area and found a suitable place to park our car - sheltered, safe and easily accessible in case we had to beat a hasty retreat (Map). We called-into the Park Rangers House to inform him of our intentions - this guy knows every inch of the area (he should do, he has been living there most of his life) and his advice is always most appreciated - before beginning our 2-hour ascent to the hut.
|Leaving the Car-park, with|
Cobb Reservior in background.
The Bushline Hut is a comfortable 2-hour hike up a moderate incline and is well sheltered in amongst the trees. As we were in plenty of time, we didn't rush and took many opportunities to admire the great views. Upon arrival, we were left with enough time to check-out the surroundings, put a brew on, have dinner and play a few rounds of Cribbage ( a crib-board and a deck-of-cards can be the best companion for hikers) before hitting-the-sack (going to sleep). The next morning we woke to perfect conditions for our next segment - clear blue-skies, calm and cool - and, after a hearty breakfast of porridge & banana, bread-roll and mug-of-tea - we were on our way by 8:30am. Our instructions said this segment would take between 4-to-5 hours, we estimated 8-hours. That's including sightseeing, taking photos and lunch-break.
|Lake Lillie in the distance.|
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.
My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.
The next segment was quite interesting. We came-across terrain that one would have easily thought a very large dump-truck had tipped a load of large rocks over a cliff. As intriguing as it was, one has to be careful when hiking over this type of terrain. One slip, and god-knows what would happen. As you can see in the photo, the weather conditions were still ideal.
Ruby Lake (about an hour on from our last stop) could not have been a more idyllic spot to break for lunch - sheltered and beautiful.
|Lunch at Ruby Lake.|
Little did we know, when we left this idyllic spot, that we would be returning, under different conditions, in a couple-of-hours.
From here we had to make our way through thick and water-logged scrub while ascending to the ridge-line. Upon arrival we were overcome with what greeted us. The view was out-of-this-world and we immediately set-about to take it all in (Map). Immediately below us was the Cobb River and Valley. In the distance was Mt Arthur (Map). After about 10-minutes of taking photos and admiring the scene, I happened to notice a menacing black cloud coming from the south, and heading in our direction. I said to my friend, " that doesn't look good, I think we should prepare for the worse".
|Pitching Tent at Ruby lake.|
|The morning after......|
A few days later we got together again, accompanied by a bottle of whiskey, to assess what happened, what, if any, mistakes we made, and would the incident put us off hiking. The incident didn't put us off hiking, and we went on to experience more of what the great outdoors has to offer.
Before I sign-off, there is something I haven't told you yet (you could call this the moral-of-the-story), what time of year it was. It was the 14th February 1993, the middle of the New-Zealand summer. While we were huddled-up in our sleeping-bags (fully clothed), at 4pm on that day,with snow falling around us, friends of ours were getting sun-burnt on Tahunanui Beach in "Sunny Nelson". Isn't "Mother Nature" something?