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South Island 7a Young Wilkin - Crucible Lake

South Island 7a Young Wilkin - Crucible Lake


Postby past my sell by date » Thu Jan 21, 2021 6:15 pm

Date walked: 26/12/2005

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The Young Wilkin circuit is a popular three day tramp- starting and finishing at Makarora, a few miles North of the head of Lake Wanaka on the main road over the Haast pass to the West coast.
Wilkinmap.jpg

The track climbs the Young valley to the 1501m Gillespie pass and descends the Siberia valley to the Wilkin river, but the start involves a major river crossing maybe half a km wide :shock: . The instructions (today) say that the route requires experience in river crossings, and to folllow the yellow markers crossing the Makarora river where the Young river joins it. If the water level is too high you need to make a roughly 10km detour to cross at Blue river -
Here are some pictures of the area
2WY06.jpg
At the end of Lake Wanaka
2WY05.jpg

2YW11.jpg

2WY04.jpg

I had done river crossings with Steve and Tam at Arthur's Pass, but this was Donna and my first solo tramp in serious back country and without anyone more experienced with us, we were a bit reluctant - I don't think there were any yellow markers in 2005!- :( There was also an alternative :D
The Makarora jetboat will whisk you up ( and later back down ) the Wilkin river to Kevin Forks at the bottom of the Siberia track whence it is an easy one hours walk up to The flat floor of the valley and Siberia hut
Jetboat03.jpg

Jetboat01.jpg
Makarora jet boats( library photos)
iwilkinplane.jpg
And indeed once up in the valley you can also fly in or out on this little plane
I think a lot of day tourists fly in, walk down the broad easy track to the Wilkin and jetboat out
So we decided to Jetboat in, stay four nights at Siberia hut and jetboat back out again
siberia hut.jpg
Siberia hut (630m)- it burned down in 2014 but has since been replaced
The farmer who was allotted this area must have been a John Bunyan fan - or more likely a manic depressive: For as well as naming it the Siberia valley, he also called the two most prominent mountains Mount Awful and Mount Dreadful :lol: :lol: :lol:
There is a story - almost certainly apocryphal - that a climber asked his guide to take him from one to the other so that he could say he'd done the "awful dreadful traverse" :lol: :lol: :lol:
Being a holiday, there were several people at the hut, including a large Italian with an immense sack that included several changes of clothes and enough "trailmix" to last most people a month :lol:
During the night he snored mightily, but instead of prodding him - the usual remedy - the other occupants gathered up their mattresses one by one and crept out into the living room - like Haydn's Farewell symphony :lol:
However when Donna Joined the exodus she accidentally shone our torch in his eyes and woke him - whereupon he went back to sleep without snoring again all night. In the morning he was very apologetic :lol: :lol:

Crucible Lake
As well as Gillespie pass, there is a highly recommended side walk to Crucible Lake ( 1172m) below the highest nearby peak 2360m Mount Alba. The weather looking clear and settled, we decided to do this next day.
Wilkin02.jpg
Map of the Siberia valley
The route heads North West up the flat floor of the valley, crosses the river (not a major challenge) :lol: and heads L up a side track.
Donna.jpg

Donna.1 184.jpg

YW01.jpg
Looking up the valley towards Mount Dreadful
YW03.jpg
The Siberia stream
YW04.jpg
And crossing it
Donna.1 182.jpg
The stream descending from Crucible lake: the track starts on this side but crosses higher up
YW06a.jpg
There are fine waterfalls on the stream
Donna.1 185.jpg

Donna.1 186.jpg

2YW09.jpg
Views of the stream - we simply waded across somewhere here, as our boots were already wet
Donna.1 188.jpg
higher - on the other side
Donna.1 187.jpg
The forest thins and Mount Alba 2360m - appears at the back
YW07.jpg
A wider view: near the forest margin a lot of white flowered Mountain Ribbonwood grows
YW08.jpg
Looking up the valley above the forest: the lake is behind the moraine R of centre - where the stream comes down
YW09.jpg
Mountain Cottonwood - cassinia
Donna.1 189.jpg
A kea - they are always around
As ever there were lots of flowers:-
Yellow-Marguerites-Crucible-lake.jpg
Yellow Marguerites
White-and-Hybrid-marguerites-Crucible-lake.jpg
White and hybrid Marguerites
gentian.jpg
L Gentians..... R Eyebright
Woolyheads-Crucible-Lakea.jpg
L.. white or cream Carrot ..... R.. Woollyheads
Orchid-Crucible-Lake.jpg
I thought this was an orchid of some kind, but it turns out to be the rare native forgetmenot Myosotis macrantha :D - though it took a whole team of eminent NZ botanists to identify it :lol:

Crucible Lake and its setting are dramatic and impressive, but difficult to phtograph as you are so close to it. I was still using film :lol: :lol: and didn't have the panorama feature than is universal on even quite modest digitals.
These are the photos:-
YW12.-crucible-lake.jpg

Donna.1 200.jpg

Donna.1 203.jpg

Donna.1 192.jpg

YW10.jpg

YW11.jpg

As it was early summer there was still as lot of surface ice, and on it a lot of rubble including some quite large stones resulting from the spring melt. These clearly end up on the lake floor and as this presumably happens every year , I wondered how long it will be before it fills. I couldn't find any info about its depth.
Crucible.jpg
This is a library photo taken when all the ice had gone - The sides look to be sloping steeply down - suggesting that it's quite deep :)
Donna.1 194.jpg

YW13.jpg
From the moraine looking back down the valley
We returned the same way to the hut .
past my sell by date
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Re: South Island 7a Young Wilkin - Crucible Lake

Postby Sgurr » Thu Jan 21, 2021 8:41 pm

Lovely. Would love to go back to N-Z again. We only did the over-popular Milford Trail, and though it was very well organised felt it lacked anything of any possible wilderness feel. I laughed at your snoring companion. We once walked in a group with US twins, only one of whom snored. Yu could tell them apart from their side partings, but to annoy us they sometimes changed them. A mass exodus from one room into the other when we all realised we had chosen snoring John over non-snoring Jim.
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Re: South Island 7a Young Wilkin - Crucible Lake

Postby RobW » Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:20 pm

Nice report! :clap: Good impression of the ruggednes of the place. Did the keas eat anything important? I recall we had issues at one of the Aspiring huts; a friend nearly lost some kit.

Wading streams seems normal for the kiwis. I recall us wearing trail shoes for the 60-ish crossing on the walk in to Tappy (can't spelli it); met with a certain disdain I think :lol: Their info for the peaks is notoriously understated as we found to our cost. Tough folk.

Agree with Sgurr, it would be good to get back there.
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Re: South Island 7a Young Wilkin - Crucible Lake

Postby RobW » Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:27 pm

PS how do you do place 2 photos side by side?
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Re: South Island 7a Young Wilkin - Crucible Lake

Postby past my sell by date » Fri Jan 22, 2021 12:04 am

RobW wrote:PS how do you do place 2 photos side by side?

I drag them on to a larger blank in photoshop and resize. As WH only allows 40 pics I find it essential
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Re: South Island 7a Young Wilkin - Crucible Lake

Postby Anne C » Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:33 pm

Excellent read :clap: - photos are beautiful!
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Re: South Island 7a Young Wilkin - Crucible Lake

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:05 pm

Thanks for the replies - Yes Keas are very tame, but can also be very destructive - windscreen surrounds and wiper blades are their favourite i think :lol: :lol: and yes wading is all part of tramping. Large parts of the bush are quite impenetratable unless a path has been cut and following the rivers is the only way to progess. you get bluffed out on one side, cross over, continue for a few hundred metres and then have to cross back. Can be exhausting!
On the "Great" walks the streams are alll bridged but the bridges have to be lifted out in winter- as in some places in the European Alps
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