Showing posts with label Mt Oxford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mt Oxford. Show all posts

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Ryde Falls II - Back in the Black: 4 October 2014

Tramping day trip to Ryde Falls...in the snow!

 I went for a tramp into Ryde Falls on Saturday last, there was a very small window of fine weather (or so I thought, more on that later) over the Canterbury Plains while the rest of the country had wind, snow and rain. I thought it would be fine at least until the evening, well.....

Coopers Creek to Ryde Falls

I started out from the Cooper's Creek car park as usual, very busy on this Saturday so I expect a lot of others had the same idea as myself: tramp in the foothills. there was a bit of hail/snow about the place, probably from the previous evening.

Start of Ryde Falls Track
Track to Ryde Falls from Coopers Creek car park


Ryde Falls Track: DOC track map

Above and below are the DOC track markers, and a map of the local Oxford forest park. The trip into Ryde Falls is 2-2.5 hours according to the map, or about 7-8kms total.

Ryde Falls Track: Edge of Oxford forest

The start of the track is across paddocks and low river terraces, then it is a long slow climb to the high point of the ridge that runs alongside the track. It is mostly very gentle, sidling slowly upwards for the next hour or so.

Heading up Coopers Creek Oxford Forest

Ah, nice sunny looking day, or is it....?

Blue skies on the Ryde Falls Track
Here I am on the track, blue skies behind me.

Jon, day tripping to Ryde Falls

You enter the bush proper after about 10 minutes walking, the advantage of this track especially in the summer is that it is covered by forest for 90% of the way. At this low level the bush is quite open, not much undergrowth. This is the start of the climb!

Mixed exotic/native bush on the Ryde Falls Track

After crossing two stiles the track begins to climb onto the ridge, this is typical of the track conditions, it was originally a benched cart track for the sawmill which once existed in the area.

Ryde Falls Track: Climbing to Pt. 549

Panoramic series of views of the area in the lee of Mt Oxford, Ryde Falls are at the low point of the ridge line in the middle centre of the photo below.
Ryde Falls Track: View up to head of Coopers Creek

That is Mt Oxford in the Centre of the photo, you can traverse the tops and walk back down to Coopers Creek along the Wharfedale - Link Track - Ryde Falls tracks.
Mt Oxford from the Ryde Falls Track

The track to the top of Mt Oxford climbs this spur line and then moves off to the left along the ridge climbing out of the photo.

Ashley Saddle from the Ryde Falls Track

Below is a shot of the start of the track to Mt Oxford, it is not technically difficult but it is a good hard 3-4 hour climb to reach the top.

View east towards Mt Richardson

Near Pt. 549 on the Ryde Falls Track

Two photos of the nicely benched track, this is easy travel territory even with the odd patch of mud/swamp too negotiate. You can clearly see the old benching in the photo above, there is a very definite bank on the up hill side of the track. Originally the track would have been bullock cart wide.

Nice wide section of the Ryde Falls Track

Here is a big wind fallen tree across the track, it is too heavy to remove, so DOC have nicely cut steps into it. There was a bit of windfall on the track from the storms we had earlier in the year, but most had been cleared away.

Windfall on the Ryde Falls Track

Again Mt Oxford from about 3 kms along the track from the car park.
Mt Oxford massif from the Ryde Falls Track

Here is a plant growing in the crown of a large beech tree just off the track. I'm not sure what it is, an orchid or clematis of some sort?

Native orchid in top of Beech tree

The forest is much thicker further along the track, lots of pole beech and regrowth would make for difficult bush bashing if you went off track. This is usual in an beech forest recovering from historic native timber logging. Eventually one tree will come to dominate and the others will die out.  
Descending towards the Link Track Junction

Link Track - Ryde Falls Track junction

Eventually you reach the track junction for the side track to the Wharfedale, its called appropriately the Link Track. There is an excellent specimen of Red Beech near here, stop and have a look, it would be at least 10-12 feet in diameter.The whole area was covered with these prior to milling, it would have been an impressive sight to see a forest of these giants on these ridges.

The falls are 35-45 minutes away from the track junction.

Ryde Falls Track: Near the old bush railway

There are some interpretive panels about 15 minutes further along the track, unfortunately a bloody great beech tree has fallen on them! There are a couple of  seats here - it makes a great spot to stop and have a rest. Provided, or course, that a bloody great tree hasn't fallen on them!

Ryde Falls Track: Interpretive panels...and big tree!

The track descending to the river has fern groves on both sides, when you start passing these you are about 10 minutes from the valley bottom and the falls.

Ryde Falls Track: More open bush, ferns

With recent rain there were a few muddy spots, an example below, they don't slow you down too much. If you have ever tramped on a wet, muddy West Coast track you wouldn't even notice it, you just plough on through! I passed a group of 6-8 people near here.

Mud patch on the Ryde Falls Track

Eventually you reach the rest spot/camping area at Ryde Falls, as a place for lunch it is great there are some log seats, a water source for a brew up and a fire pit. As a camping spot it leaves a lot to be desired, rocky and lumpy ground and a bit cramped. See my previous trip report to Ryde Falls as I camped here for the night.

Jon at the Ryde Falls camp site
The falls themselves are a short walk up the side stream, follow the signs from the camping area, be warned the sandflies are vicious here, even in Spring.

Ryde Falls: first two tiers...there are six total!

Ryde Falls, multiple falls in one!

I had a nice if slightly chilly lunch break at the camping area near the falls.  After packing up and taking some photos I set out to walk back to the car park. About 5 minutes up the track it started to snow, first large flakes and then small balls much like polystyrene. By the time I reached the Ryde Falls-Link Track junction there was about 1-2 cm of it on the ground.

You can only just see but in the photo below the snow has just started to fall.

Deteriorating weather on the return to Coopers Creek

This is the second trip in a row where it has snowed while I'm out and about, I hope it isn't a trend starting. I don't really want to be known as "Snowman Jon".

Any way... I wrapped myself up and just trudged on through the weather. I was in no real danger because I was on a good track and had a full load of warm gear with me, but it just goes to show a bit of caution is a good idea. Especially in Spring and Autumn when the weather is changeable.

Jon wearing thermals and jacket on the Ryde Falls Track

The snow stopped after 30 minutes, but it remained cold and misty for the rest of the afternoon. It started snowing and hosing with rain just as I was driving through Oxford. 

Lovely Trip...even with the snow! 

Access: From Oxford Township follow Woodside Road, turn right into Mountain Road and drive to car park at Coopers Creek.
Track Times: 2-3 hours from Coopers Creek to Ryde Falls, same return

Miscellaneous: Toilets located at Coopers Creek and Ryde Falls camp site, the camp site is rough but will hold three 2 person tents. Treat water from Coopers Creek before drinking.


Monday, 3 February 2014

Wharfedale Track & Hut- 31st January-1 February 2014

A visit to Oxford Forest and Wharfedale Hut


My latest trip was a weekend jaunt into the Wharfedale Hut in Mt Oxford Conservation Area, it was a good trip despite some rain I had on the way out on Saturday morning. It is a bit of a long walk as Wharfedale Hut is 14.6km away from the car park. Luckily the track is mostly flat,  as it sidles gently
 along the side of the ridges in the area. 

Day One: To Wharfedale Hut from View Hill car park

 

View to South from View Hill car-park
Wharfedale Track: View Hill car park to Wharfedale Saddle

I left the car at the View Hill car park which is accessed up a long gravel road to the West of Oxford township. Here is a view from the car park to the South West. There were low lying misty clouds on both days, it was also 20 degrees on the Friday. Muggy! 

The red beast at View Hill, Oxford Forest
 
Here is the trusty Honda parked at the View Hill car park, the access road is fair, there are two fords that can become flooded with heavy rain. There are a number of farm gates to open on the way...make sure you close them behind you. They caused no problems during my trip.


Access road leading to View Hill

View to the East showing the access road leading off to the left of this photo. 

Start of the Wharfedale Track

Here is the beginning of the Wharfedale Track, the track rises slowly to a saddle at 750m, 10 km's distant from the car park. The Wharfedale Track is widely used by the MTB fraternity, the bikers ride out for day & overnight trips.

Oxford Forest track map

A closer view of the DOC sign at the beginning of the track, this is the access point for a number of huts/tracks in the area as well as several forested valleys.  

Wharfedale Track: 4w/d section

 The track climbs very gradually from the car park, first along a 4WD track, later the track assumes the usual back country form (rocks/roots/overgrown etc.).

Wharfedale Track: In the beech forest

Here I am about 1 km in, the track is fairly wide and clear at this point, the Wharfedale was originally surveyed and benched as a possible road into the Lees valley. Ultimately the route proved too costly and rugged to fill this purpose.  

Wharfedale Track: Junction to Ryde Falls, Coopers Creek

The first DOC track sign, as you can see this is an access point for a lot of tracks. 

Jon on the Wharfedale Track

Here I am near the track junction, it was an overcast day and slightly cool, great weather for a tramp.


Wharfedale Track: Sidling the ridges

It is a great track, it would be good on an very hot day as it is shady with a border of beech trees on both sides. The track is well maintained for the most part, packed gravel and small stones reflecting its primary use as a MTB track.

View Hill carpark from further up the Wharfedale Track
A view back towards the car park, about 2 km's in, the car park is at the base of the exotic forest in the centre of the photo. 

Wharfedale Track: One of the foot bridges
You cross a number of small bridges built on the track, they span deeper gullies, here are two photos above and below of different bridges.

Wharfedale Track: Another footbridge

Below are a series of photos showing the track and surrounding area. The forest around Oxford is infested with wasps, all you hear all day is the drone of them. You have to be careful where you stand/sit/touch to save yourself from a sting.  I carry antihistamine tablets in case I or someone else has a reaction to them.

Wharfedale Track: Nice easy gradient



Wharfedale Track: Slightly rougher conditions

A view out towards the Canterbury plains, no visibility that day.

To towards Christchurch from the Wharfedale Track



Wharfedale Track: View down into the Forest

Below is a view up towards the saddle and part of the Mt Oxford Massif from a point about 1.5km's away, the saddle is just to the right of the rise in the centre right.

Wharfedale Track: View of Mt Oxford from the track

Below are more views of the track, the condition and maintenance of it varies along its length.



Wharfedale Track: Just before the saddle



At Wharfedale Saddle

After about 3.5 hours you arrive at Wharfedale Saddle, the high point (750m) on this particular trip. The track descends from this point down to the Dobson creek, in the Lees Valley catchment.

Wharfedale Saddle, you could camp here- no water!


As you can see there is plenty of room for a camp near here unfortunately there is no water source, so you would need to fill up before you reach this point. The closet water source would be the creeks about 1 km either side of the saddle. Lots of wood for a fire because of all of the windfall laying around. It would a nice sheltered spot for a camp.
 
Jon at Wharfedale Saddle

Wharfedale Track: Wharfedale Saddle to Wharfedale Hut


 Hey fashion Jon changes his outfit!
(Actually the sun came out and it got too hot so I changed into short sleeves).

Dobson Creek from the Wharfedale Track

A view down into the valley from close to the saddle, the hut is still 2 hours from this point (but it is all downhill). The West side of these foothills are more densely covered than the Eastern side, the turn of the century timber milling never reached this far.

On the Wharfedale Track: half way down Dobson Creek

The hut lies at the mid point between these two descending ridge lines, in the centre of
the above photo.

There is a track junction about 2 km's from the saddle with one track leading to Wharfedale Hut and the other climbing to Black Hill Hut. 

Wharfedale Hut (1965?)
Eventually you arrive at Wharfedale Hut, it is a 8 person hut with wood fire, bunk platforms and bugger all space around it. Your water source is the Dobson Stream which is down a short track to the right of the hut. There is a fine deep swimming hole just downriver which makes for a great clean up spot at the end of the day. Obviously, I indulged ;)

Back view of Wharfedale Hut

 There is limited space around the hut for tents, you would be far better to camp down by the river (Dobson Stream) as you would be closer to the water source and it is quite picturesque. 

Track down to Dobson Stream, near Wharfedale Hut


Dobson Stream in winter from Backcountry Bibles


Here is a view of the track heading down to the river. Below are two views of the hut surrounds, the balcony and a view to the North East of the hut.

Wharfedale Hut: The porch

View from Wharfedale Hut porch

View inside the hut, the hut is tidy but could use more ventilation (there are no opening windows in the hut). Because of the enormous number of wasps and sand-flies in the area you have to keep the door closed. I cooked my dinner (steak/peas/mash/gravy) outside to save myself from the fumes.

Interior of Wharfedale Hut: Sleeping platforms, benches

Interior Wharfedale Hut one of the two cooking benches

The hut has one of those superb fire boxes (really hot once you get them going), not needed the night I was there. The hut sees a lot of use, both for day trippers and overnight. I had the hut to myself but there were 10 people there the previous Saturday.

Flowering beech tree, Wahrfedale Hut area

There is a beech mast on this year, so all of the beech trees are covered in seed heads like the above.
(About every 10-15 years the beech trees produce seeds which fly away in the wind, sometime in later February/early March there will be billions of these seeds flying around, it is spectacular to see. Unfortunately, there will also be a massive population explosion of rats/mice/possums because of this food source. DOC have already started intense poisoning programs to try and mitigate the problem, that's why you don't import exotic animals into a pristine environment, you colonial dopes!)

Below are various views of the hut interior.

Reading material in Wharfedale Hut

Hey folks, s'up!!!
Jon inside Wharfedale Hut
View of of Wharfedale Hut window


I spent the night at the hut, it was very warm inside, the hut really needs better ventilation to make it more habitable.

Day two: Back to the Wharfedale carpark 


I set off home the next morning at around 4:30am, there was light rain falling and I was worried about possible rising creeks you must cross on the access road. In the event, they were only marginally higher than the previous day.

My sleeping position in Wharfedale Hut in the morning

Usual DOC warning signs inside Wharfedale Hut

I walked in the dark for about an hour and a half until day break; it's interesting walking at night as your senses work differently. You have the cone of light from your head torch, other than that all is black your ability to see is diminished. Sounds are amplified and your sense of smell is better. You rely on touch/feel/sound & smell a lot more. I really enjoy it, the distance just seemed to fly past.

Sunrise was just as I reached the high point at the saddle so it was mostly downhill to the car from there. There are not many photos from the second day, because of the rain I left my camera in my pack.
(rain+ digital camera= pile of worthless junk)

View Hill car park on the second day

This is what the last day was like (misty drizzle) but still good tramping weather when you are heading home to a warm shower and real food!

View down access road from View Hill car park


I enjoyed this trip especially walking out in the rain and dark (adventuresome!). I shall be back but next time I will take the other track up to Black Hills Hut and stay for a night.


Access: From Oxford- Depot Rd to Woodstock Rd, turn into Ingrams Rd, turn into Limeworks Road, turn into Wharfedale Track Rd.
Track Times: 4-5 hours to Wharfedale Hut Hut via Wharfedale Track from car park
Hut Details: Wharfedale Hut: standard, 12 bunks, wood burner, water from stream, wood shed, toilets 
Miscellaneous: Some un-bridged side streams, access road has two fords, these can be impassable in rain