Cass Lagoon

 Queens Birthday Weekend 2014

 At 7am Saturday Vesna, Fay, Sheryl (new member) Mike and Neal (trip leader) in 2 cars headed West for Cass, where, after the car shuffle we headed up river on frozen ground and ice-greasy stones. Several cold wet river crossings later we left the river and climbed up the sidling track heading for the Cass hut. Lunched in the sun an hour from the hut and checked out the avalanche damage across the valley where trees had been blown over by the wind generated by avalanches.

Packs on, water bottles topped up and off to the hut where the cold kept our rest short. Trip leader's gas tank ran low at this point so I led over the pass to keep the pace down! Views from the pass were breathtaking. Huge snow-clad massifs all around us. Lots of photos and breath catchers for leader. Then the down bit. Lots of down. Steep and slippery down, sore knees and aching legs down. Leader got slower and slower so the girls took off and Mike and me took our time- arriving at the Hamilton hut 15 minutes after them. The log burner was alight and the hut was cheerful and nearly full of trampers from the Rangiora club and 2 hunters. More walkers arrived after dark until the hut was full.

 Sunday Mike and the girls took off down the Harper to check out The Pinnacles while leader had a rest day. Perfect cold crisp weather so I chopped some firewood, chatted with the Keas then went for a 3 hour walk down the Harper hoping to meet the others. I couldn't find them so returned to the hut and lit the fire.

 Lots of fun catching up when they finally turned up right on dusk with more trampers arriving late in the day again. Monday we were up and fed early and away by 8am into another perfect clear crisp morning. Over the Hamilton on the new swing bridge, we walked through a white frozen landscape on the sheltered side of the valley. The route out and over the Lagoon Saddle makes for a long cold day with several river crossings and sub-zero temperatures. But beautiful to behold with hoar frost and mini stalactites of ice in creek beds here and there sparkling the reflection of our soggy boots. We found a sunny spot beside the Lagoon Saddle Bivouac for a leisurely lunch break before the last haul up to and over the saddle.

Again, the views over the alps and the Waimakariri were breathtaking and cameras were soon clicking away capturing the wonder of the vista we crazy people never tire of. Then the long and not very interesting sidle north east around Mt Bruce into the pine plantation and down the wide easy track to Cora Lynn and Sheryl's little Mazda. We managed to squeeze all 5 of us into her car and drove off, heater roaring, back to Cass and the other car. A quick transfer and photos and off to the Springfield garage for coffee and nibbles. The weather was perfect albeit cold, the company better, and the mountains as implacable, as testing and as beautiful as ever.