Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mount Michael, Allandale near Fairlie

Map ref: BY18 297206. We know South African expats who own a hilltop house on Mt Michael, close to Farm Barn Cafe, about 8 kms drive from Fairlie. Backing the house, a new stand of Oregon Pine, Psudotsuga menziesii was planted below a mature stand of  Pinus radiata, If a fire ever started in the pines, the house would go up in smoke. The hilltop house had panoramic views - Mt Fox in the west, Devils Peak & Blue Mountain in the east.

Mon 09.02.15. I parked my car by the hilltop house on Mt Michael, as I wanted to walk along the flat top of Mt Michael to 2 Telecom cell phone masts, about halfway along the top. At the back of the house I climbed through the Oregon pine plantation. Some of the topmost Oregon pine plantings were dried out by a wind funnel caused by the mature Pinus radiata trees. Grass was flattened on top too, giving a crop circle effect - swirled, flattened grass.

I climbed over a fence at the top & sidled along another fence by the pines, overlooking red deer in the steep paddock below, until I reached another fence to be climbed, by a paddock spotted with gorse. Thereafter the walk was straight forward, through paddocks, past 2 hilltop pines, to a wooden stock pen. near the Telecom gravel road.

Alpine views were magnificent with Fairlie centre stage, part surrounded by low Brothers Range east, higher Albury Range west & Mt Michael itself north east, about the same height as Brothers Range. In the distance below low cloud, I saw a helicopter whopping above the gravel road going up Middle Valley from Raincliffs. I was higher than the helicopter. In the north, Opuha dam was low due to low summer rains.

It was harvest time below with golden wheat fields & hay fields drying out, both sides of Mt Michael, some fields already harvested with hay bales dotting the landscape. Beyond low ranges, south eastwards were high Alpine peaks: Mt Nimrod on the way to Timaru, Mt Nessing closer to Fairlie. Albury Range obscuring Mackenzie Pass between Dalgety Range & unseen Rollesby Range.

At the other end of Albury Range, westwards I saw Burkes Pass winding towards Mt Maude & distant Mt Edward. Most days, Leah bussed Burkes Pass to teach at Lake Tekapo School. Viewing northwards across Tekapo Saddle, I saw Mt Dobson, Stoneleigh Saddle, Mt Richmond, then Mt Fox Range, snowless in sunny February. In the north was Butlers Saddle & High Claytons going east to Blue Mountain, Devils Peak & Mt Walker. We twisted past those last 3 mountains, on our drive down Mt Michael, whenever we drove to Geraldine.

Upon reaching the stock pens. I went up the gravel road to the Telcom masts & enjoyed the views both sides of Mt Michael. I didn't go further along Mt Michael top, as I didn't want to disturb sheep in one of the paddocks,

I quickly returned to my car at the hilltop house, as Pacific low clouds scudded up the valleys, both sides of Brothers Range - Middle Valley & the valley going down to Timaru. Half an hour later, by the time I got to my car it was raining. The first decent rain, after hot & dry December - January days.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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