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THE OLD GHOST ROAD.                                                                                                                                        6th – 13th JUNE

What a trip. Catherine, Judy, Colin , John, Chris, Dorothy, Linley and Bruce left Timaru for Murchison on Sat. 6th June, arriving at the “Lazy Cow” backpackers in late afternoon. Very comfy spot, a stroll through Murch.in the gloom is probably not the way to see the town but had to be done.


Sunday saw us ready to go with photo’s at the gateway with not a wasp or sandfly to be seen, only 80 km’s to go.


There is history here, dating back to the late 1870’s and Gold mining ,plenty of old relics along the way and with a couple of diversions , some old stamping batteries, pans, water wheels, boots,all sorts of stuff.


What a life those old pioneers endured, tough doesn’t pay them credit. Our modern day track cutters have bought this track back to life.


We were the only soles on the track, barring three cyclists, two had ridden to Ghost lake and back and one to Lyell Saddle and out, they would be the only people we saw  other than a couple of D.O.C goat cullers and a track cutter at the Mokihinui end.


First stop Lyell Saddle Hut, comfy with log burner, double glazing and i imagine a great view, if only we could have seen it.


Monday, and off to Ghost Lake on newly formed track  on a great grade, winding up through very West Coast bush with the odd view point and a couple of goats to move out of the way, weather was overcast with low cloud but not yet raining. Out onto to the Lyell Range and sidling through the sheer open West face of this range. A lot of hard work has gone into making this track, no more evident than right here. Stopped near rocky Thor for lunch and further on to Heavens Door and a view down to Murchison and the mountains of Nelson Lakes, views were soon to disappear from here on, Ghost Lake just round the corner.


Another superb hut with 12 bunks, log fire and warm.


Raining in the morning and away, a bit windy  and cooling down. Didn’t take long for the formed track to end and we were onto the Stern Ridge bush trail, not a bikers paradise just yet. Eventually linking up with the formed track in the Stern Valley and a short to the Stern Hut. These huts are so well insulated that a couple of blocks were seen to be “lamp bathing” to the light of the tilley, it was so hot.


Wednesday was a wet miserable day but we set off only to be turned back at the Earnest Stream as it was too high to cross, we would wait at Stern for another day.


All was good the next day, up the  Earnest, past Lake Cheerful, which wasn’t looking too cheerful in the gloom with rain and snow further up on the hills, up through the bush to Solemn Saddle on another portion of unformed track and eventually down the other side heading for Mokihinui Forks.


This is were we met with one of the track cutters who were drilling and  blasting there way on the new track.Due to our lay day we bypassed Goat Creek Hut in favour of Mokihinui  Forks,just added a few more km’s to the day and were pleased we did. Goat Creek had resident cullers staying and the prospect of tenting wasn’t too  appealing , given the weather.  A  DOC hut and just as good as the others, with log burner and plenty of room. Unfortunately we had to by pass the Specimen Point hut due our lay day , but what a  site for hut. High above the Mokihinui River, will have to be another day. By now, it was raining bucket loads and all creeks and waterfalls were going for it. This part of the track, like the Lyell end had been formed many moons ago and has been improved with new bridges and in some places safety wires attached to the rock walls to help negotiate some tight spots.


Eventually finishing the tramp at the Seddonville end and one last highway stroll to the Seddonville pub. Two lucky punters had single beds ,electric blankets and with a shower, good feed and a couple of beers, well what more could you want.


Saturday morning and the shuttle bus back to Lyell and away home. In all a very good 6 days and I'm sure appreciated by all.


On completion of the track, it will be a magnet for both trampers and bikers, it will only get better. Bring it on.


B