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Trip Report: Carroll Hut, Dec 30-31 2021

18 Jan 2022 5:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Report by Eric Skilling                  

When a white-haired, slightly ancient looking bloke with the muscled legs of a 30-year old mountaineer confidently rates an overnight tramp as a “walk-in-the-park” -  be afraid! 

When he adds “a little tester for those wanting to do an overnighter. Just a stroll in and out” - you need to be close enough to look under those bushy eyebrows and notice the twinkle in his eyes.

The real clue was when he announced he wasn’t coming along. We didn’t take note and instead headed into the woods next day and boy were we in for a surprise.

It started badly. Twice over. Firstly, we nearly missed the start. 

Then, after the earlier advice of no river crossing, we were somewhat surprised to be heading up onto the narrow track with wet feet. ‘Nuff said!

We had decided to split into two parties of five. Beth, John, Karen and Vivienne took off like bank robbers. Peter was allocated to THAT group but clearly his conscience was clear because he soon joined the more sophisticated association of Grace, Ingrid, Joanne, Tanya and of course, yours truly.

The contrast to Bealey Spur walk the day before was stark. Gone was the wide, meandering, steadily rising path through spacious beech forest. Instead, we scrambled, clambered and scaled an endless series of head-high (and higher) rocky or muddy ledges, searching endlessly for hand and footholds.

Here on the northern side of Arthurs Pass the foliage was a dense mass of beech and gnarled podocarps with numerous other broadleaf shrubs. Certain members of our group didn’t find this much of a problem and had time to stop and take plenty of photos.

However, when someone asked what we would say to Roger next time we met him, someone was heard to say…. “There won’t be any talking. I am just going to wring his neck”. 

As the trail began a traverse towards the top, we got our first views of the spectacularly steep and narrow Otira Gorge, and the Barron Range scarred by scree-slopes. The vegetation began to change to a mix of snow tussock and other alpine shrubs, the mist appeared and it got quite cold.

Carroll hut came into view, looking fragile and isolated in the expanse of the cirque. The ‘other group’ had already arrived at the hut and true to form, were happily ensconced in the hut having commandeered the best bunks.

The weather clagged in a bit, but it was a pleasure to spend the rest of the day in the cosy, spacious hut. Even the ‘other group’ turned out to be ok company.

Next morning, we took some time to explore the tarns and bogs off the track behind the hut. The variety of plants and flowers unique to these alpine environments are a must see. 

Vivienne was in her element. The lady is a walking encyclopaedia of native plants, rattling off both common and Latin names as she searched the ground around her, oblivious to the mist and the cold. At one stage she muttered “This is better than sex” but it may have been “this is a brachyglottis”. Eventually we moved on. I don’t think Vivienne noticed us leave.

Meanwhile back in Nutsville, Grace was changing her clothes after …… wait for it…. having been for a swim in a tarn. Apparently, we don’t have to worry. No isolation necessary. This condition is not contagious.

Thanks to all (even Roger) for a memorable trip.


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