Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Week 5. Mt Gerald Station, Tablelands, Mackenzie Country

Fri 19.08.16. While Leah taught students at St Josephs School, Fairlie, I drove to Timaru for shopping. At $2 Shop, Stafford St, I bought six squishy balls for Leah's students. She said the sensopathic feel of the plastic balls calmed students' nerves. Calmed Leah's too.

Sat 20.08.16. Leah taught Geraldine students at St Josephs School, Fairlie

Evening: We went to Carnegies, Allandale Rd, for so-called gourmet pizzas, The owner turned us away saying: "We're full." She lost our goodwill. Carnegies was another tourist trap with expensive, crap food. It was the last time we supported Carnegies. On Main St, recently opened Mt Hutt Chinese Cafe was cheaper, healthier & friendlier. We'd rather support them.

Sun 21.08.16. I chopped wood for our Fairlie rental log burner.

Afternoon: I drove along Lilybank Rd back to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station.

Evening: Rio Olympics TV watching; Women's rhythmic gymnastics. Men's double canoe 1000 m - gold medal Germany, silver medal Brazil, bronze medal Ukraine. Men's kayak four 1000 m. Women's kayak four 1000 m - gold medal Germany, silver medal Slovakia, bronze medal Czech Republic. Women's kayak four 500 m - gold medal Hungary, silver medal Germany, bronze medal Belarus. Women's triathlon - gold medal USA, silver medal Switzerland, bronze medal Great Britain. Men's marathon - gold medal Kenya, silver medal Ethiopia, bronze medal USA.

It rained all night at Mt Gerald Station. I hoped it would thaw top snows so I could climb Mt Gerald soon.

Mon 22.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. Snows still high on Mt Gerald, Two Thumbs Range & Hall Range. Low slopes' snows had thawed.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her to teach a student there & for her computer course. I wandered around The Cairns golf course. There was lots of building activity since I'd last wandered that way: New house almost completed at The Cairns development. Another house half built. Seven weeks ago it was bare land. A new road was dug at the N end of the golf course, all the way to a new house overlooking Mt John & SH8. Heaps of gravel was dumped on a moraine hilltop overlooking The Cairns golf course. Was it foundation stone for a golf club house, or for a posh, new house?

Evening: I TV watched Rio Olympics closing ceremony, which included Men's marathon medal ceremony.

Tues 23.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. We were half way through our stay at Mt Gerald Station, as the school term was 9 weeks.

Mt Gerald Tablelands: Cloudy & cool, a good day for tramping. I wanted to recce the farm track going up Ribbonwood Stream gorge at the N end of Mt Gerald. There was no public road connection from Lilybank Rd to the farm track going up Ribbonwood Stream. Mt Gerald tablelands above Lilybank Rd & Ninety Five Stream catchment blocked the way.  

On Lilybank Rd, I parked my car 3 km N of the homestead & wandered east up Mt Gerald slopes through grassy, matagouri, moraine country to grassy tablelands above Lilybank Rd. Good cattle country with grand Alpine views & views of Lake Tekapo. Two weeks ago, Leah & I'd wandered tablelands when it was covered in icy puddles & snow. The snow had thawed, but there were still icy pools & streams en route.

Along a vague farm track, I followed fences & a row of undulating, moraine hills intersecting tableland terraces to about 900 m, where I found a locked, corrugated iron hut. Map ref BY17 078522. (Unmarked on Topo50 map). No one home. Grand views of Mt Gerald steep slopes above. Past the hut, at the end of the moraine hills, the farm track petered out in boggy catchment for the Ninety Five Stream.

Following a fence, I tramped N over rough, moraine hummocks below Mt Gerald & over Ninety Five Stream catchment, past prickly matagouri, over bogs & icy streams. Wet feet again. The main stream was aptly named. I crossed many icy streams, a world of pain for an unfit tramper on Mt Gerald west slopes.

Beyond Ninety Five Stream catchment, a huge hollow between Mt Gerald tablelands & Mt Gerald N slopes going to Ribbonwood Stream, I crossed Ribbonwood Stream way down Mt Gerald slopes & came out at cattle paddocks near the braided confluence of Ninety Five Stream & Ribbonwood Stream. A farm track went up Mt Gerald N end beside Ribbonwood Stream. In future, it was the track I would use to climb Mt Gerald.

Near the end of Lilybank Rd I recrossed Ribbonwood team & Ninety Five Stream & wandered back to my parked car via Mt Gerald tablelands. The 11 km circular walk took me 4 hours.

Wed 24.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. Leah had a report back meeting with parents. As farm staff were away, the busy farmer landed his helicopter on our front lawn & left the engine & rotor idling during the meeting. Later that morning the helicopter whizzed low over The Island.

Mt Gerald tablelands: Clouds hung about 1000 m, low over Mt Gerald & Hall Range. I parked my car 4 km N of the homestead along Lilybank Rd. I followed fences east through moraine, matagouri country to grassy tablelands above Lilybank Rd. I watched several flocks of Canada geese arrowing S towards Lake Tekapo.

From the tableland I saw a bee line across the lower end of Ninety Five Stream catchment & cattle paddocks to the farm road going up Ribbonwood Stream, N end of Mt Gerald. The N facing slopes were snowless, but there was still snow on south facing slopes & higher up Mt Gerald towards Beuzenberg ridge. A radio mast stood on top of the N end of snowy Mt Gerald. After snow thaw, climbing Mt Gerald via Ribbonwood Stream was the way I'd go.

I returned to my car via a Mt Gerald tablelands high point, marked 895 m on my Topo50 map, near the 900 m hut. Map ref: BY17 061532. The 6.5 km circular walk took me 3 hours.

During our Mt Gerald Station stay, I had a game left leg, which I favored on our walks. A couple of months back, I'd sprained my left glute while chopping wood for our Fairlie log burner. I'd had glute & thigh pain for months. A Google search showed I had sciatica, a pain in my ass. Pinched sciatic nerve pain went from my ass down the side of my left thigh, to the back of my left knee, to my left toes, giving me painfully disturbed nights & a tingling left leg after sitting. When my endorphins kicked in on my Mt Gerald walks, sciatic pain disappeared, till I cooled down...

Thurs 25.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo for her Pilates class at the Community Hall. Afterwards I drove down Burkes Pass to our Fairlie rental for the weekend.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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