Tuesday, 31 March 2015

My tramping Gear: ACR Res Q Link 365 Personal Locator Beacon

I usually carry a Personal Locator Beacon or PLB with me went I m out tramping. Up to now I have been hiring one for each trip I take but I have finally managed to save enough shekels to buy my own.


ACR ResQLink 365 PLB

I brought myself a ACR ResQLink PLB so that I will always have one with me when I'm out tramping. These are the same used by the Southland PLB Charity and are one of the brands recommended by NZ SAR. The cost was $550 from Hunting and Fishing here in Christchurch this was $50 cheaper than any other local supplier.
That's one of the reasons everyone doesn't own one, they are bloody expensive!
Instructions for use
I think most people recognize the usefulness of carrying a PLB, especially if like me you do a lot of solo tramping. Although it is not a "get out of jail free card" it does give you a small measure of added safety in the outdoors.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Mt Richardson - March 28th 2015

I went for a day tramp up Mt Richardson in North Canterbury over the weekend, as I work my way through my "To Do" list of trips. I am hoping to get all of the Canterbury foothill tracks ticked off before the weather starts to deteriorate. I just have Mt Oxford and Mt Tomas still left to do as I have been up Mt Grey while in the Army.

I'm holding the Mt Somers track as a potential 3 day trip as I would like to go down and walk the full circuit in the future.
 You start the Mt Richardson track from the picnic area at Glentui, there are a number of tracks leading from here up and along the many hills in the area.
Old Betsy parked at the picnic area

Glentui Picnic area

Signposted as a 2 hour trip, that is about right, it took me roughly two hours to reach the summit.

DOC sign at GlenTui

Typical DOC 3/D map board
The start of the track is a old 4 W/D track, this gradually gets smaller and rougher the further up valley you walk. Most of the locals tracks start from this same spot.

Start of the Mt Richardson Track

The track soon changes into a benched one it is very pleasant walking along here. 

Nice benched track

The first track junction goes to Mt Richardson, in the other direction lies the Waterfall Track and access to the Bypass Track. Here is a link to the DOC track brochure for the area:

Junction of Mt Richardson/Waterfall track
DOC track brochure page for Glentui area

The real track starts soon after the track junction, this is more typical of the type of tracks you will strike when walking in the Canterbury foothills: rough, muddy, rocky and narrow.

Slightly rougher as we get going
Below is the only un-bridged  stream you cross along the entire length of the tramp, this area is very dry even in a "wet" year.

Only river crossing on Mt Richardson track
The point below is the start of the steep section of the track, you are climbing up the side of a ridge for about the next hour or so.

Last flat section, start of the climb to Mt Richardson

Mist over Canterbury Plains
There is a lot of wind fall around the track, probably as a result of the storms late last year, cleared from the track, but it is still a real mess in the forest.

Wind fall damaged trees
Hard to see in this photo but the track is at a 30-40 degree angle up through this section.

Steep rocky track conditions
Eventually you make it to the top of the ridge, from here you sidle along the top and sides of the ridge as you steadily climb towards the top's.

Mt Richardson track - ridgeline section

Plateau 3/4 of way to summit
There are a couple of half decent dry camp sites along this flatter section of track, nice location but absolutely bone dry- bring water if contemplating a camp.

Possible camping spot?

More open beech forest

Approaching Mt Richardson summit
The final steep section before you reach the summit, it is only 5 more minutes from here to the top of the hill.

Last climb before summit
There is a large broom covered flat on the summit of Mt Richardson, there are great views in all directions. Here is a series of shots showing the Lees Valley and Mt Oxford.

View South from Mt Richardson

View towards Puketeraki & Torlesse Ranges

Lees Valley, Eastern end, Puketeraki Range

Mt Oxford from summit of Mt Richardson
Lees Valley from Mt Richardson

Track sign, Summit of Mt Richardson

Trig on Mt Richardson
Here I am on the summit, there is a area of rocks and low scrub here, exposed to the weather but with spectacular views. There were a trio of younger trampers here enjoying that most typical of tramping fare: Hot Cross buns and Beer......?

What every hardcore tramper eats...

 After a 10 minute break I set off once more along the Blowhard Track which runs along the top of a intersecting ridge in an easterly direction.

Jon on Mt Richardson summit
Heading along Blowhard Track along the ridge tops

There are couple of nice looking campsites about 5 minutes along the Blowhard Track, with nice bush for shelter  & fire wood but no water. It is very dry along this ridge with no streams or tarns to source water from.

Campsite near Mt Richardson summit

Scrub and beech along ridge

Another dry ridge top campsite

Nice track conditions
There is an interesting plateau on a ridge off to the North East of the this track, I couldn't see any tracks to the area so don't know if many people visit. You would need to bush bash through the scrub to get there. Looks interesting......

Distant plateau from ridge

Mt Thomas in distance

Beech forest along ridge

Misty Canterbury plains

No views of Canterbury unfortunately as the Plains were completely covered with low fog, the effect is visually interesting though.

Along the Blowhard Track

View towards Banks Peninsula
You eventually reach the Bypass track junction after about 40 minutes of walking, the track heads down one of the spurs from here all the way back to the Glentui Picnic area. It is about 2 hours walk from this point to the carpark.

Blowhard/Bypass track junction
Close up of track sign

Blowhard Track to Mt Thomas

Moving down the Bypass track
I stopped about 10 minutes down the track for lunch, in the distance you can see the ridge I climbed up earlier in the day. The track goes up the side of the ridge and then follows the crest all the way to the summit.

Mt Richardson in distance
Another area of extensive wind fall, these steep rocky ridgelines are very prone to this sort of damage. Most of the trees have pulled their whole root systems out of the soil during a big wind gust.

Heavy windfall trees on track

Steep gradient in mid section of track

This was the largest Black Beech tree I passed all day, it is an impressive example. It is probably 30 meters tall and 2 meters around the trunk, that is big for this sort of tree.

Large Black Beech tree

Ferns and regrowth near track end

First Bridge on Bypass track
Just after crossing the first bridge over the Glentui River I was  surprised when two deer walked across the track about 20 meters from me. By the time I got my camera out they were long gone. I don't know who was more surprised me or the deer. When you are tramping by yourself you make very little sound so things like this happen quite often.

Spot where I spotted the deer

Second bridge on Bypass Track
The upper reaches of the Glentui river are very picturesque, you honestly wouldn't think you are only 40 km's away from Christchurch.

Upper Glentui River
You connect up with the Mt Richardson Track about 5 minutes walk from the river, from here it is a short walk along the nice benched track back to the car park.

Back on the Mt Richardson track
This was a good trip, and another peak from my to do list sorted!