Another 3 day weekend last week and another chance to get out of town and go tramping. Naturally I jumped at the occasion despite no one else to come along with me as my weekend starts on a Monday. I’d been wanting to head over to the Cobb Valley for some time to go see the Asbestos Hut etc but as I had 3 days off I wanted to get out there a little further! First stop, the Fenella Hut which is where I would spend the first night. The Hut is named after Fenella Druce who was killed when the Three Johns Hut, in Mt. Cook National Park, was blown off Barron Saddle.
I ended up getting to the start of the track to the Fenella Hut at 5pm as I had had a few things to do in town before leaving. The sign said 5 hours at the start of the track but I knew I had plenty of light and aided with an Ipod and a download of Annie Macs latest show I would end up being there in half that time!
The Cobb Valley
The walk up the Cobb Valley is really spectacular, especially on a late summer evening as you slowly wind through vast lush meadows and the ocasional beech forest. You pass a few other huts on route including the rustic and recently resorted Chaffey Hut which is well worth a visit.
After arriving at the Fenella surprisingly quick I headed up to a near by tarn for a quick swim and wash. It was surprisingly warm so made the most of it until I was pretty pruned! There were a a few other folk at the hut already, which I was surprised about as week days are generally quiet in the backcountry. After a quick chat with a few of them we learned that we 4 of us all had a similar plan and agreed to do it together. A good distance away along the Douglas Ridge is Lonely Lake and spectacular views of the aptly named, Dragons Teeth!
The Fenella Hut to Lonely Lake Hut and back in a day! No easy task
The other 3 set of about 30mins infront of me as I enjoyed a little bit of a lie in but I soon caught them up just as they were at the top of the ridge. I also planned to bivy up near the ridge somewhere on the way back so I had to pack up all my gear. We ended up getting to the start of the ridge at about 7.30am and were greeted with the morning sun rising about the hills in the distance.
Glenn, John and Sarah.
Glenn and I set of at a slightly faster pace and arranged to met the others at the Hut for lunch. My fitness was about to be shown up by someone twice my age! Years of being in the outdoors and triathlons and turned Glenn into a tramping Jedi!! He was off in no time! I resorted to telling myself that is was my full pack that was the issue just to sugarcoat the dent that my ‘youthful fitness’ had taken!
Glenn and I waiting for the others
Looking back at one of the first of many sidles
After a few hours of heading along the ridge the sun started to properly beat down. It was scorching!! And coming from Scotland heat is something that is relatively foreign to me. Thankfully I had plenty of sunscreen to hide my pasty skin! We pasted under Kakapo Peak and started to catch glimpses of the Dragons Teeth.
The Dragons Teeth
Just when I thought the view couldn’t get any better, I sidled around the back of one ridge and came across Glenn sitting having a snack and lapping in the view and what a view it was….
Looking into Lonely Lake high up in the top part of the hills
The route down the ridge to our destination
The Dragons Teeth
After another hour (30mins if your Glenn) we reached the hut and lake. I was truly parched by this time as walking along ridges means no water! It was straight off to the lake to guzzel a few fathoms out of it. It was perfectly still and crystal clear, very hard not to just dive straight in!
The Lonely Lake and finally water!! But only half way…
After waiting for a short time for the others we decided to turn back and meet them on the way back as our day was only half way through. The way back was going to be during the full heat of the day so I managed to fabricate some head attire out of a merino top. Never in my life have a been so thirsty!!! Glenn took a wee detour on the way back up Kakapo Peak but after I had released what resembled, both in color and in volume , a glow stick from my bladder I decided I better hurry up and get back. Never have I looked at one of those wee mountain puddles that looks like the Exxon Valdez was sank in it due to the oils floating in it and said, ‘hmmm, that looks looks bloody good!’ We were both bloody thirsty and relieved to get back to the hut and get some water in us.
The afternoon was spent relaxing in the hut and swimming recovering from a very long day tramping. We set of a 7am and arrived back at the hut at 4pm. This included and hour for lunch but was truly a really tough day!
It was up early the next day to set off to the car and get back to Nelson to do a pile of washing just as big as Kakapo Peak. Glenn and John set off before Sarah and myself, but was really nice to meet such nice folk out in the backcountry as you usually end up doing. Ended up being a really fun and educational trip. Good times.
Morning dew rising of the grasses on the way back