23 -24 January 2016
It was a leisurely 8am start to our Saturday morning with our first stop at McDonalds for a coffee before even leaving Christchurch. The morning was warm and the six of us were feeling excited about the trip ahead, only Vesna had done this trip before so we were headed into unknown territory and looking forward to it.
We parked the Van at the Jollie Brook Carpark and headed off towards Gabriel Hut. This part of the track was in good condition and quite open even though Tere did managed to find a few matagouri bushes to rip his arms on. We stopped for lunch on an open terrace and soaked up the views and the company. About an hour after lunch we reached Gabriel Hut where we split into two groups so some could go down to Lake Sumner while the others kept heading up the track, without packs on it was a nice quick side trip and we meet up again at the top of the saddle.
The track was glorious as it followed the Gabriel Stream up to the Saddle and the little waterfalls were used by all to cool off as we dunked our heads and wiped our sweaty brows.
The Jollie Brook Hut was a welcomed site and we were greeted by two young hunters who were also in there for the night. As they had already taken up one room in the Hut, Vesna, Sergey and I decided to put up our tents which left one room free for Tere, Carol and Dianna. The boys had the fire going to cook themselves an early dinner before they headed out hunting but this made the hut extremely hot so the late afternoon was spent down by the river at our wee campsite, then as the evening cooled we made our way back to the hut.
The next morning was also nice and warm as we began our day with the first of our many river crossings. As a side trip on the way out we decided to head up and see Cold Stream Hut, so we dropped our packs and headed upstream. This was a real bush bash as the track was unrecognisable with the huge amount of undergrowth, our legs were tortured as we forced our way through the bush and clambered our way through the slippery stream. It was taking us longer than we anticipated so after 30 minutes of this we made a group decision to only carry on for another 10 minutes and if we did not find this hut by then we would have to turn back. Sergey went ahead and within a few minutes we could hear his ‘distinctive call’ letting us know that the hut had been found, much to the relief of us all as none of us really wanted to be defeated by this track. With the success of this behind us we headed back and collected our packs and found a lovely sheltered place for a well-deserved lunch stop.
The rest of the day was spent enjoying the flat terrain, the river crossings and the montage of songs that we burst into along the way. Thanks Tere for the ‘Supplies’ of Shaggy dog stories and thanks to everyone for their awesome company and laughter that made this such an awesome weekend.