Lake Guyon 19th – 22nd September
Good Evening Folks; Have we got a weather bomb coming up from the south for this week. First one front comes up across the country bringing rain then a brief fine spell follow by another front bringing snow to 400metres for the weekend. Thanks Jim Hickey.
Phone call Wednesday night to Collin. Did you see the weather report tonight? –Yep- Have you got a plan B? –Nope. Could possibly take Mt bikes and stay at Hamner. Lower level than Mailings Pass.- I’ll check around ( consult Judy).- Forget the bikes we’ll leave Friday as planned and stay in Hamner Friday night as planned.- OK.
Friday 5:30 pm comes around and Colin, Judy, Christine and John (Script) set off from Timaru for Hamner with our winter woollies. General consensus, we’ll take the day as it comes when we wake up tomorrow. We got to our accommodation around 8:30pm. Met Pete, our chauffeur for the drive to the start of our track. The wind and the rain came during the night. Lying awake, you knew it will be snowing higher up. Get up next morning, overcast, fresh snow on the tops. Let’s go for it. We won’t know until we are there. We can always turn back and go for plan B (sit in the hot pools).
8:30: Pete put his mountain bike in the back of Cols Ute. Packs in. We’re off up Jack’s pass onto the Rainbow road. As we got further along the road we are greeted with the fresh snow on the ground. Overcast, the odd dark cloud in the sky. She’ll be right. It’s a runner. We get to our start, but head up the road a couple of kms to have a look at Lake Tennyson and all the fresh snow on the ground. Brrrrr.
Back to the start which is also the start or end of the new ST James cycle trail into Wairau Valley. Here Pete leaves us to take the Ute back to where we are going to walk out to the next day or Monday, weather dependant. With Just his bike shorts on and knobbly knees, Pete has a 30km or so bike ride back to Hamner. If he bikes fast enough he wouldn’t get too cold. (Took him just over an hour to get back to the fire).
It was a gradual climb for us to get to Mailing Pass (1308 metres) in the snow which even though chilly, was very pleasant and photo shots were taken on the way. At the top we were greeted with a very pleasant view into the valley below. No snow. We are of course just following a snow covered four wheel drive track, so in all there was no real hard slog to be done for the day. Down the other side it is a lot steeper decent. This would be a lot harder riding your mountain bike if you started from the St James Station at the start of the Rainbow Road end.
We had a quick lunch stop part way down, then continued down to be greeted with sunshine in the valley floor. What a great way to spend S.C anniversary weekend. A pleasant stroll down the valley following along the Wairau River. About 3pm we took a left turn up a 4WD track to Lake Guyon. An hour later you are at a nice grass clearing, a perfect place to have a 4 bunk hut nestled beside the traditional English Poplar trees that the early settlers seem to plant around their homesteads etc. This was home for the night. Here we settled down for a well-deserved cuppa, Freeze Dried meal to re hydrate and take in the surrounding view.
Lake Guyon is about the size of Lake Tennyson at the base of a large hill to the south, a climbable hill for the views. That was our mission the next day if we stay another night at the hut. The sun started to drop and the cool breeze started to come up the valley. Time to get some wood in from the surrounding Beech trees and crank up the fire. A bit of smoke in the hut for a start. By the time tea was over and dishes done, another cuppa, we were ready to settle into our sleeping bags for the night. The fire had worked a treat, we had to open the door let some cool air in as it was too hot in the sleeping bags.
We awoke the next day to a skiff of fresh snow on the ground and it was decided the hot pools were a good option for tonight. The forecast was always in the back of our minds. We packed up and strolled around the side of the lake, watching the trout (bag limit 2). A gradual climb away from the lake, soon had the extra layers of clothing off and we were in sunshine and more photo’s being taken.
Next stop. Fowler hut. A historic Early Settlers home of 2 rooms made of timber and inside insulated with clay walls. Here we were greeted by a pinto coloured horse that came up to check us out. There was smoke coming out of a make shift chimney at the hut. Seeing a person at the hut we went up to check out the hut. We were greeted by an interesting bushman who has spent his working life as a deer culler, etc. He comes into this area for 2-3 months over winter trapping possums. A lonely existence, but doing a good job and seemed to be doing alright for himself. He rode out to Hamner the other day to cast his vote and return that day. Here we put the world to right, but had to leave. It would have been an interesting night had we stayed. Fowler pass was a beckoning. The weather was changing. It was an uphill plod out of the valley.
At the top of the pass was the last photo shoot of the trip as the electronic camera batteries had come to the end of their charge. Just as well as no sooner at the top the weather closed in and our backs were getting covered in snow. Half an hour or so saw us out of the snow and coming down to the Rainbow valley where Cols Ute was awaiting. This Pass is also part of the cycle way. The signs say for experts. You would have to be as I imagine you would be doing a lot of carrying. Certainly not a bike and panniers trip. Not for our group anyway. It was interesting to be in the valley and on part of the cycle way as it could be a doable trip in the future. Mailings pass to St James homestead, back to Hamner with panniers and an overnight camp out in the valley.
A drive back to Hamner, a well-deserved beer and a soak in the hot pools. A great way to spend a long weekend.
Those on trip Christine Judy Collin and writer John